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(In conjunction with G. J/. Seabroke.) 





(7/i conjunction with W. Rutherford.) 
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' In the Prt*. 



Astronomically Considered 
















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A II rights reserved 





67 L 


IN continuation of my work on the astronomical uses 
of the Egyptian Temples, I have from time to time, 
when leisure has permitted, given attention to some of 
the stone circles and other stone monuments erected, as I 
believed, for similar uses in this country. One reason for 
doing so was that in consequence of the supineness of 
successive Governments, and the neglect and wanton 
destruction by individuals, the British monuments are 
rapidly disappearing. 

Although, and indeed because, these inquiries are 
still incomplete, I now bring together some of the 
notes I have collected, as they may induce other 
inquirers to go on with the work. Some of the results 
already obtained have been communicated to the Royal 
Society, and others have appeared in articles published 
in Nature, but only a small percentage of the monu- 
ments available has so far been examined. Further 
observations are required in order that the hypothesis 
set forth in this book may be rejected or confirmed. 

In the observations made at Stonehenge referred to 
in Chapter VII. I had the inestimable advantage of 


the collaboration of the late Mr. Penrose. Our work 
there would not have been possible without the sym- 
pathetic assistance of Sir Edmund Antrobus, Bart.; 
Colonel Duncan A. Johnston, R.E., Director-General of 
the Ordnance Survey, also was good enough on several 
occasions to furnish us with much valuable information 
which is referred to in its place. Messrs. Howard 
Payn and Fowler skilfully and zealously helped in 
the observations and computations. To all these I 
am glad to take this opportunity of expressing my 

With regard to the other monuments besides Stone- 
henge, I have to tender my thanks to the following 
gentlemen for most valuable local assistance : 

Brittany Lieut, de Vaisseau Devoir. 

Stenness Mr. Spence. 

Stanton Drew Professor Lloyd Morgan, Mr. Morrow, 

and Mr. Dymoncl. 
The Hurlers, and the Merry Maidens the Right Hon. 

Viscount Falmouth, Capt. Henderson, Mr. Horton 

Bolitho and Mr. Wallis. 

Tregaseal Mr. Horton Bolitho and Mr. Thomas. 
The Dartmoor Avenues Mr. Worth. 

The following have helped me in many ways, amono- 
them with advice and criticism : Principal Rhys, Dr. 
Wallis Budge, Dr. J. G. Frazer, and Mr. A. L. Lewis. 

The assistance so generously afforded in the case of 



Stonehenge by Colonel Johnston, R.E., in furnishing me 
with accurate azimuths was continued for the monuments 
subsequently investigated till his retirement. To his 
successor, Colonel R. C. Hellard, R.E., I am already 
under deep obligations. 

For the use of some of the Illustrations my thanks 
are due to the Royal Society, the Society of Antiquaries, 
the Royal Institute of British Architects, Messrs. Mac- 
millan, and Mr. John Murray. 

I have to thank Mr. Rolston, F.R.A.S., one of my 
staff, for assistance in the computations involved. 


17th May, 1906. 
















XIII. STENNESS (Lat. 59 N.) 

XIV. THE HURLERS (Lat. 50 31' N.) 



XVII. STANTON DREW (Lat. 51 10' N.) . 







34 * 

55 A 

62 / 


88 - 


107 X 
118 H 







XXV. THE MERRY MAIDENS CIRCLE (Lat. 50 4' N.) . . . 265 









INDEX 333 


no. PAGE 

1. Present Sun Worship in Japan 4 

2. The Celestial Sphere, Conditions at the North Pole ... 5 

3. The Celestial Sphere, Conditions at the Equator .... 6 

4. The Celestial Sphere, Conditions in a Middle Latitude ... 6 

5. The Four Astronomical Divisions of the Year 14 

6. The Various Bearings of the Sun Risings and Settings in N. lati- 

tude 51 14 

The Astronomical and Vegetation Divisions of the Year . . 23 

Original Tooling of the Stones at Stonehenge 44 

View of Stonehenge from the West 45 

Copy of Hoare's Plan of Stonehenge, 1810 40 

The Leaning Stone in 1901 48 

The Axis of the Temple of Karnak 56 

Plan of the Temple of Ramses II. in the Memnonia at Thebes . 57 

One of the remaining Trilithons at Stonehenge .... 59 

General Plan of Stonehenge 60 

The Arrangements for raising the Stone 70 

The Cradle and Supports 71 

The Frame used to locate the Finds 73 

Some of the Flint Implements 77 

Showing the careful Tooling of the Sarsens 82 

Face of Rock against which a Stone was made to rest ... 83 

The Leaning Stone Upright .... ... 85 

Stonehenge, 1905 86 

Map of the Stones made by the Ordnance Survey .... 89 

Rod placed in the Common Axis of the Circle and Avenue . . 94 

Alignments at Le Menec 99 

Menhir on Melon Island 100 

Melon Island, showing Menhir and Cromlech 101 

Menhirs of St. Dourzal . . 102 




30. Alignment at Lagatjar (photograph) . 

31. Alignments at Lagatjar (plan) 1 

32. Menhirs on Solstitial and May Alignments .... 

33. Diagram for finding Declination from given Amplitudes or Azi- 

muths in British Latitudes H3 

34. Declinations of Northern Stars from 250 A.D. to 2150 B.C. . . 115 

35. Declinations of Southern Stars from 250 A.D. to 2150 B.C. . 116 

36. The Conditions of Sunrise at the Summer Solstice in Lat. 59" N. 119 

37. The Azimuths of the Sunrise (upper limb) at the Summer 

Solstice. Lats. N. 59^-47 1 

38. Maeshowe and the Stones of Stenness 124 

39. Chief Sight-Lines from the Stones of Stenness .... 126 

40. Variation of the Obiquity of the Ecliptic 100 A. D. 4000 B.C. . 130 

41. The Sight-Lines at the Hurlers 136 

42. The Southern Avenue at Merrivale, looking East .... 147 

43. Avenues, Circle and Stones at Merrivale, with their Azimuths . 154 

44. Cursus at Stonehenge, nearly parallel to the Merrivale Avenue . 155 

45. The remains of the Challacombe Avenue 159 

46. The Sight-Lines at Trowlesworthy 162 

47. The Circles and Avenues at Stanton Drew 169 

48. The Carro, Florence 194 

49. Cresset-Stone, Lewannick 257 

50. First Appearance of May Sun in British Latitudes . . . 263 

51. Azimuths of the May Sunrise . . 264 

52. The Merry Maidens 269 

53. 25-inch Ordnance Map of Merry Maidens showing Alignments . 275 

54. The Eastern Circle at Tregaseal 279 

55. Photograph of Ordnance Map showing Sight-lines .... 281 

56. Plan of the Men-an-Tol .... - 283 

57. Photograph of the Men-an-Tol 284 

58. The Men-an-Tol. Front View and Section 289 

59. Photograph of the Ordnance Map of Boscawen-un . . . 288 

60. Diagram showing Azimuths of Sunrise 1680 B.C. and 1905 A.D. . 290 

61. Arcturus and Capella as Clock-Stars in Britain .... 300 

62. A Night-Dial 303 

63. Layard's Plan of the Palace of Sennacherib 305 

64. Layard's Plan of the Mound at Nimrood 306 

65. The Temples at Chichen Itza 307 




IN the book I published ten years ago, entitled " The 
Dawn of Astronomy," I gave a pretty full account of 
the principles and the methods of observation which 
enable us to trace the ideas which were in the minds of 
the ancient Egyptians when they set out the line of 
a temple they proposed to build. 

Numerous references to the ceremonial of laying the 
foundation-stones of temples exist, and we learn from 
the works of Chabas, Brugsch, Diimichen l and others, 
that the foundation of an Egyptian temple was asso- 
ciated with a series of ceremonies which are repeatedly 
described with great minuteness. Amongst these cere- 
monies, one especially refers to the fixing of the temple- 
axis ; it is called, technically, " the stretching of the 
cord," and is not only illustrated by inscriptions on the 
walls of the temples of Karnak, Denderah and Edfu 
to mention the best-known cases but is referred to 

1 " Baugeschichte cles Dendera-Tempels." 1877. 




During the ceremony the king proceeded to the site 
where the temple was to be built, accompanied myth- 
ically by the goddess Sesheta, who is styled "the 
mistress of the laying of the foundation-stone." 

Each was armed with a stake. The two stakes were 
connected by a cord. Next the cord was aligned to- 
wards the sun on some day of the year, or a star, as. 
the case might be ; when the alignment was perfect the 
two stakes were driven into the ground by means of a 
wooden mallet. One boundary wall parallel to the main 
axis of the temple was built along the line marked out 
by this stretched cord. 

If the moment of the rising or setting of the sun 
or star were chosen, as we have every reason to believe 
was the case, seeing that all the early observations were 
made on the horizon, it is obvious that the light from 
the body towards which the temple w r as thus aligned 
would penetrate the axis of the temple from one end 
to the other in the original direction of the cord. 

We learn from Chabas that the Egyptian word which 
expresses the idea of founding or laying the foundation- 
stone of a temple is Senti a word which still exists in 
Coptic. But in the old language another word Pet-ser, 
which no longer remains in Coptic, has been traced. 
It has been established that pet means to stretch, and 
ser means cord, so that that part of the ceremonial 
which consisted in stretching a cord in the direction of 
a star was considered of so great an importance that it 
gave its name to the whole ceremonial. 

Dealing with the existing remains of Egyptian temples, 
it may be said that the most majestic among them wasj 
that of Amen-Ra at Karnak, dedicated to the Sun-God, I 


place of rising or setting. Stars at the same distance 
from the celestial pole or equator will rise or set at 
the same point of the horizon, and if a star does not 
change its place in the heavens it will always rise or 

set in the same place. 

The sun as it changes its position each day, in its 
swing N. and S. of the equator, will rise and set on 
any day in the same place as a star which permanently 
has the same distance from the equator as that tem- 
porarily occupied by the sun. 

Here it will be convenient to introduce one or two 
technical terms : \ve generally define a star's place by 
giving, as one ordinate, its distance in degrees from the 
equator : this distance is called its declination. 

Further, we generally define points on the horizon 
by dividing its whole circumference into 360, so that 
we can have azimuths up to 90 from the north and south 
points to the east and west points. We also have 
amplitudes from the east and west points towards the 
north and south points. We can say, then, that a 
star of a certain declination, or the sun when it 
occupies that declination, will rise or set at such an 
azimuth, or at such an amplitude. This will apply to 
both north and south declinations. 

Then supposing the azimuth to be 39 in the N.E. 
quadrant, it is written N. 39 E. For the other quad- 
rants we have N. 39 W., S. 39 E., and S. 39 W., 

The following table gives the amplitudes of rising or 
setting (north or south) of celestial bodies having 
declinations from to 64, at Thebes and Stonehenge 


although in each different latitude the inclination of 
the equator to the horizon as well as the elevation of 
the pole will vary, there will be a strict relationship 
between the inclination of the equator at each place 
and the elevation of the pole. Except at the poles 
themselves the equator will cut the horizon due east 
and due west ; therefore every celestial body to the north 
of the celestial equator which rises and sets will cut the 
horizon between the east and west point and tl>e north 
point ; those bodies which do not rise will of course 
not cut the horizon at all. 

The stars near the equator, and the sun, in such 
a latitude as that of Thebes, will appear to rise 
or set at no very considerable angle from the vertical ; 
but when we deal with stars very near to the north or 
south points of the horizon they will seem to skim 
along the horizon instead of rising directly. 

We now pass on to Stonehenge. To represent the 
new condition the axis of the globe will now require 
to be inclined 51 to the horizon. The number of 
northern stars which do not set and of southern stars 
which do not rise will be much greater than at 
Thebes. The most northern and southern stars visible 
will in their movement hug the horizon more closely 
than was observed under the Thebes condition. 

The sun, both at Thebes and Stonehenge, since it 
moves among the stars from 23^ N. to 23^ S. each year, 
will change its place of rising and setting at different 
times of the year. 

Now it will at once be obvious that there must be 
a strict law connecting the position of a star with its 


globe is turned round, we can get a very concrete idea 
of the different relations of the observer's horizon to 
the apparent paths of the stars in different latitudes. 

We have next to deal with the astronomical relations 
of the horizon of any place, in connection with the 
observation of the sun and stars at the times of rising 1 


or setting, when of course they are on or near the 
horizon ; and in order to bring this matter nearer to 
the ancient monuments, we will study this question for 
both Thebes and Stonehenge. We may take the lati- 
tude of Thebes as 25, Stonehenge as 51, and we will 
begin with Thebes. 

To consider an observer on the Nile at Thebes and 
to adjust things properly we must rectify a celestial 
globe to the latitude of 25 N., or, in other words, 
incline the axis of the 2;lobe at that ano;le to the 

O O 

wooden horizon. 

Since all the stars which pass between the North 
Pole and the horizon cannot set, all their apparent 
movements will take place above the horizon. All the 
stars between the horizon and the South Pole will 
never rise. Hence, stars within the distance of 25 
from the North Pole will never set at Thebes, and 
those stars within 25 of the South Pole will never be 
visible there. At any place the latitude and the eleva- 
tion of the pole are the same. It so happens that many 
of those places with which archaeologists have to do in 
studying the history of early peoples Chaldsea, Egypt, 
Babylonia, &c. are in low middle latitudes, therefore 
we have to deal with bodies in the skies which do set 
and bodies which do not, and the elevation of the 
pole is neither very great nor very small. But 


half of the stars invisible to the observer at the 
northern one. 

If the observer be on the equator, the movements of 
the stars will appear to be as indicated in this diagram 
(Fig. 3) that is, all the stars will rise and set, and 
each star will be, in turn, twelve hours above the horizon, 
and the same time below it. But if we consider the 
position of an observer in a middle latitude, say at 
Stonehenge, we find that some stars will always be 
above the horizon, some always below that is, they 
will neither rise nor set. All other stars will both rise 
and set, but some of them will be above the horizon 
for a long time and below for a short time, whereas 
others will be a very short time above the horizon and 
a long time below it, each star completing a circle in a 
day (Fig. 4). 

Wherever we are upon the earth we always imagine 
that we are on the top of it. The idea held by- all 
the early peoples was that the surface of the earth 
near them was an extended plain : they imagined that 
the land that they knew and just the surrounding lands 
were really in the centre of the extended plain. Plato, 
for instance, was content to think the Mediterranean and 
Greece upon the top of a cube, and Anaximander placed 
the same region at the top of a cylinder. 

By the use of a terrestrial globe we can best study 
the conditions of observation at the poles of the earth, 
the equator and some place in middle latitude. The 
wooden horizon of the globe is parallel to the horizon 
of a place at the top of the globe, which horizon we 
can represent by a wafer. By inclining the axis of the 
globe and watching the movement of the wafer as the 


and oriented to catch the light of the sun setting at 
the summer solstice, the time of the year at which the 
all-important rise of the Nile began. 

Although the sun is no longer worshipped in Egypt 
or Britain, sun-worship has not yet disappeared from 
the world. Professor Gowland has recently 1 brought to 
notice a surviving form of sun-worship in Japan. I 
quote his statement : 

" There on the seashore at Futa-mi-ga-ura (as will 
be seen in a copy of a print which I obtained at that 
ancient place) the orientation of the shrine of adoration 
is given by two gigantic rocks which rise from the sea 
as natural pillars. The sun as it rises over the moun- 
tains of the distant shore is observed between them, 
and the customary prayers and offerings made in that 
direction (Fig. 1). 

" It is, too. specially worthy of note that the point 
from which the sun is revered is marked by a structure 
of the form of a trilithon, but made of wood, placed 
immediately behind the altar. This representative of 
the trilithon is of very remote date in Japan, and has 
been in use there from the earliest times in connection 
with the observances of the ancient Shinto cult in which 
the Sun-Goddess is the chief deity. One of its im- 
portant uses, which still survives, was to indicate the 
direction of the position of some sacred place or object 
of veneration, in order that worshippers might make 
their prayers and oblations towards the proper quarter." 

The table of offerings must also be noted. 

In the book to which I have referred, I also endea- 
voured to show that a knowledge of even elementary 

1 " Archseologia," vol. Iviii. 

B 2 




astronomy may be of very great assistance to students 
of archaeology, history, folk-lore and all that learning 
which deals with man's first attempts to grasp the 

FIG. 1. Present sun worship in Japan. 

meaning and phenomena of the universe in which he 
found himself before any scientific methods were avail- 
able to him ; before he had any idea of the origins or 
the conditionings of the things around him. 


It may be well, however, in the present book to 
restate the underlying astronomical principles in the 
briefest possible manner ; and this is the more easily 
done because, in the absence of measuring instruments, 
the horizon was the only circle which the ancient peoples 
could employ effectively, and we need only therefore 
consider it. 

Indeed, whether we regard the Rig-Veda or the 
Egyptian monuments from an astronomical point of 
view, we are struck by the fact that the early worship 


FIG. 2. The celestial sphere, conditions at the North Pole. A parallel 
sphere. N.P., North celestial Pole; N, position of observer. 

and all the early observations related to the horizon. 
This was true not only for the sun, but for all the 
stars which studded the general expanse of sky. 

We have therefore chiefly to consider the relation of 
the horizon of any place to the apparent movements 
of celestial bodies at that place. 

We now know that the earth rotates on its axis, but 
this idea was of course quite unknown to these early 
peoples. Since the earth rotates, with stars infinitely 
removed surrounding it on all sides, the apparent 
movements of the stars will depend very much upon 



the position we happen to occupy on the earth. An 
observer at the North Pole of the earth, for instance, 

FIG 3 The celestial sphere, conditions at the Equator. A right sphere. 
Q, standpoint of observer ; PP, the celestial poles ; EW, east and west points. 

would see the stars moving round in circles parallel to 
the horizon (Fig. 2). No star could therefore either rise 

FIG. 4. The celestial sphere, conditions in a middle latitude. An oblique 
sphere. In this woodcut DD' shows the apparent path of a circumpolar 
star ; BB'B", the path and rising and setting points of an equatorial star ; 
CCfC" and AA'A", those of. stars of mid declination, one north and the 
other south ; O, standpoint of observer. 

or set one half of the heavens would be always visible 
above his horizon, and the other half invisible. An 
observer at the South Pole would of course see that 
















5956 ' 


1 7 

1 36 


38 21 




3 11 






4 46 



69 4 





41 53 






43 5 

78 4 





44 17 




11 10 














11 6 

16 1 


49 10 


12 13 





13 20 

19 18 


51 41 










54 14 



24 17 












58 12 


20 3 





21 10 

31 10 

























40 16 





42 11 


70 12 


29 6 

44 10 


71 59 



46 10 




31 23 

48 15 


76 1 










81 19 







36 1 


The amplitude is always the complement of the azi- 
muth, so that amplitude + azimuth = 90. Later on I 
shall give amplitudes for latitudes higher than that of 
Stonehenge, so that still more northerly monuments 
can be considered. 



IT is next important to deal with the yearly path 
of the sun, with a view of studying the relation of the 
various points of the horizon occupied by the sun at 
different times in the year. In the very early observa- 
tions that were made in Egypt, Chaldsea and elsewhere, 
when the sun was considered to be a god who every 
morning got into his boat and floated across space, 
there was no particular reason for considering the 
amplitude at which the boat left, or came to, shore. 
But a few centuries showed that this rising or setting 
of the sun in widely varying amplitudes at different 
times of the year at the same place obeyed a very 
definite law. 

In its northward passage it reaches the highest point 
at our summer solstice, and then goes down again till 
it reaches its greatest southern declination, as it does 
in our winter. At both these points the sun appears to 
stand still in its north or south movement, and the 
Latin word solstice exactly expresses that idea. The 
change of declination brought about by these move- 
ments will affect the place of the sun's rising and set- 
ting ; this is why the sun sets most to the north in 


summer and most to the south in winter. At the 
equinoxes the sun has always Dec!., so it rises and 
sets due east and west all over the world. But at 
the solstices it has its greatest declination of 23^ 
N. or S. ; it will rise and set therefore furthest from 
the east and west points ; how far, will depend upon 
the latitude of the place, as will have been gathered 
from the preceding table (p. 11). 

These solstices and their accompaniments are among 
the striking things in the natural world. In the 
winter solstice we have the depth of winter, in the 
summer solstice we have the height of summer, while 
at the equinoxes we have but transitional changes ; in 
other words, while the solstices point out for us the 
conditions of greatest heat and greatest cold, the 
equinoxes point out for us those two times of the year 
at which the temperature conditions are very nearly 
equal, although of course in the one case we are say- 
ing good-bye to summer and in the other to winter. 

Did the ancients know anything about these solstices 
and these equinoxes ? Dealing with the monumental 
evidence in Egypt alone, the answer is absolutely over- 
whelming. Many thousand years ago the Egyptians 
were perfectly familiar with the solstices, and there- 
fore with the yearly path of the sun. 

This fundamental division of the sun's apparent re- 
volution and course which define our year into four 
nearly equal parts may be indicated as in Fig. 5, the 
highest point reached by the sun in our northern 
hemisphere being represented at the top. 

In order better to consider the problem as it was pre- 
sented to the earlv astronomers who built observatories 



(temples) to mark these points, we may deal with the 
bearings of the points occupied by the sun on the 

Summer solstice. 


Winter solstice. 

FIG. 5. The four Astronomical Divisions of the year. 

horizon (either at rising or setting) at the times in- 
dicated. These points are defined, as we have seen, by 

Summer solstice 

Equinoxes yi 
setting. " 

Winter solstice 

Summer solstice 

E Equinoxes 

Winter solstice 

FIG. 6. The various bearings of the sun risings and settings in a place with 
a N. latitude of 51. 

their " amplitude " or their distance in degrees from the 
E. or W. points of the horizon. In the diagram (Fig. 6) 


I represent the conditions of our chief British sun-temple, 
Stonehenge, in latitude 51 N. approximately. 

Taking the astronomical facts regarding the solstices 
and equinoxes for the first year (1901) of the present 
century, we find- 
Sun enters Aries, Spring equinox, March 21. 
Gemini, Summer solstice, June 21. 
,, ,, Libra, Autumn equinox, September 23. 
,, Sagittarius, Winter solstice, December 23.. 

These points, then, are approximately ninety-one days 
apart (91 x 4 = 364). 

In Fig. 6 I deal with the " amplitudes " at Stone- 
henge, that is, the angular distance along the horizon 
from the E. and W. points, at which the sunrise and 
sunset are seen at the solstices ; at the equinoxes 
they are seen at the E. and "W. points. But as these 
amplitudes vary with the latitude and therefore depend 
upon the place of observation, a more general treat- 
ment is possible if we deal with the declination of the 
sun itself, that is,, its angular distance from the equator. 

The maximum declination depends upon the obli- 
quity of the ecliptic, that is, the angle between the 
plane of the ecliptic and that of the equator at the 
time of observation. When the Stonehenge Sarsen 
Stones were erected this angle was, as I shall show 
later on, 23 54' 30". Its mean value for the present 
year (1906) is 23 27' 5"; it is decreasing very slowly. 

It will be obvious from Fig. 6 that in temples built 
to observe the solstices or equinoxes, if they were open 
from end to end, looking in one direction we should 
see the sun rising at a solstice or equinox, and looking 
in the other we should see the sun setting at the 


opposite one. I shall show later on that this state- 
ment requires a slight modification. 

But temples so built interfered with the ceremonial, 
which required that the light should illuminate a naos 
that is, the Sanctuary or Holy of Holies, only entered 
by the High Priest, and generally kept dark. Usually, 
therefore, two temples were built back to back, with a 
common axis, as at Karnak. 

And here a very important point comes in ; which 
time of the year and day of the year are most easy to 
fix by astronomical observation ? As a matter of fact the 
summer solstice, the position of the sun on the longest 
day, is a point easily fixed. All we have to do is to 
observe the sun rising more and more to the north 
as the summer approaches, until at the very height of 
the summer we have the extreme north-easterly point 
of the horizon reached, and the sun stands still. We 
have the solstice. We can then put a row of stakes 
up, and so fix the solstitial line. Of course we find, 
as mankind has found generally, that the sun comes 
back next year to that same solstitial place of rising 
or setting. So that when we have once got such an 
alignment for the rising of the sun at midsummer, we 
can determine the length of the year in days, and 
therefore the beginning of each year as it conies round. 

So much, then, for the chief points in what we may 
term the astronomical year, those at which the sun's 
declination is greatest and least. We see that they are 
approximately ninety-one days apart say three months. 



THE early peoples have been very much misrepre- 
sented, and held to have been uninstructed, by several 
writers who have not considered what they were really 
driving at. It was absolutely essential for early man, 
including the inhabitants of Britain as it was then 
townless, uncivilised that the people should know 
something about the proper time for performing their 
agricultural operations. We now go into a shop and 
for a penny buy an almanack which gives us every- 
thing we want to know about the year, the month 
and the day, and that is the reason why so few of us 
care about astronomy : we can get all we want from 
astronomy for a penny or twopence. But these poor 
people, unless they found out the time of the year and 
the month and the clay for themselves, or got some one 
to tell them and their priests were the men who 
knew, and they were priests because they knew had 
absolutely no means of determining when their various 
agricultural operations should take place. So that we 
find all over the world temples erected in the very first 
flush of civilisation. 

On this a point comes in of very considerable 



interest. If we study the civilisations in Egypt, we 
find that, so far as we know, one of the first peoples 
who used this principle of orientation for agricultural 
purposes was some tribe that came down the Nile about 
6400 years B.C. They used the star Canopus, and their 
determination was that of the autumnal equinox, which 
practically was the time when the Nile began to go 
down, and when their sowing might begin. There 
was another race who, instead of being interested 
in the sun, and therefore in agriculture, at the time of 
the autumnal equinox, were interested in the year 
about the time of Easter as well. This race built the 
Pyramids about four thousand years B.C. There was an 
interval of about two or three thousand years between 
these races. As we shall see there were others, who at 
Thebes started the solstitial worship that is to say, 
the worship of the sun at midsummer and at Memphis 
in May, so as to enable them to go on with their 
agricultural operations with greater certainty. We must 
not forget that first of all the farmers tried to plough 
and sow by the moon. We can see how hopeless 
agriculture must have been under such conditions. The 
month, indeed, was the only unit of time employed, 
even of human life. We hear of people who lived 
1200 years; that means 1200 months there is no 
question whatever about that now. 

When we study the history of our own country when 
we come back from Egypt to Britain, leaving alone 
Greece and Rome -we find that in various times in our 
country we have had a year, a farmer's year, beginning 
in the month of May ; we have had another farmer's 


year beginning in the month of August ; we have had 
another farmer's year beginning at the longest day ; 
and it appears that the year beginning at the longest 
day was really the last year to be introduced. So that 
while we have in Stonehenge a solstitial temple that is 
to say, a temple to make observations of the length of the 
year by observing the rise of the sun on the longest 
day of the year in other parts of England there were 
other temples observing the sun, not on the 21st of 
June, but early in May and early in August. 

Now, as I have indicated, the priest-astronomers in 
these temples could only have won and kept the respect 
of the agricultural population with whom alone they 
were surrounded in early times, and by whom they 
were supported, by being useful to them in some way 
or another. This could only have been in connection 
with what we may term generally the farming opera- 
tions necessary at different times of the year, whether 
in the shape of preparing the ground or gathering the 
produce. For this they must have watched the stars. 

A very large part of mythology has sprung out of 
the temple cults, prayer, sacrifices and thanksgiving- 
connected with these farming operations in different 
lands arid ages. 

I wish to show next that by studying the orientation 
of temples erected to watch the stars and sunrise and 
sunset at times other than the solstices or equinoxes, an 
immense amount of information may be gained if we 
endeavour to find the way in which the problem must 
have been attacked before the year was thoroughly 
established, and when it was still a question of grass- 

c 2 



or corn-kings or gods who had to be propitiated ; and 
we may even be enabled to understand why the 
particular divisions of the year were chosen. 

In a solstitial temple the sun makes its appearance 
only once a year, when it reaches its greatest north or 
south declination ; but in the temples dealing with 
lower declinations the sun appears twice, once on its 
journey from the summer to the winter solstice, and 
ao;ain on its return. 


The first difficulty of the inquiry in the direction I 
have indicated arises from the fact that the products of 
different countries vary, and that identical farming opera- 
tions have to be carried on at different times in these 
countries. We must, then, begin with some one 
country, and as the record is fullest for Greece I will 
begin with it. 

The first thing we find is that the chief points in the 
farmer's year in Greece are about as far from the fixed 
points in the astronomical year as they well can be. 

In the Greek information so admirably collated by 

M. Ruelle in the article on the calendar in Darembera" 


and Saglio's monumental " Dictionnaire des Antiquites 
Gre A ques et Romaines," the earlier Gregorian dates on 
which the seasons were reckoned to commence in ancient- 
Greece were as follows : 

Summer... ... ... ... May 6. 

Autumn (fyQivoirwpov)... ... August 11. 

Winter ... ... ... ... November 10. 

Spring ... ... ... ... February 7. 

I may also add from the same source that in the 
calendars of the Latins the dates become : 


Summer ... ... ... ... May 9. 

Autumn ... ... ... ... August 8. 

Winter ... ... November 9. 

Spring .. ... ... ... February 7. 

Now we see at once that these dates are, roughly, 
half-way between the solstices and equinoxes. 

This, then, at once brings us back to the orientation 
problem, which was to fix by means of a temple in the 
ordinary way dates nearer to these turning-points in 
the local farmer's years than those fixed by the solstitial 
and equinoctial temples. 

It must be borne in mind that it is not merely a 
question of stately piles such as Karnak and the Par- 
thenon in populous centres, but of the humblest dolmen 
or stone circle, in scattered agricultural communities, 
which was as certainly used for orientation purposes, 
that is, for recording the lapse of time at night or return 
of some season important to the tiller of the soil. The 
advent of the season thus determined could be announced 
to outlying districts by fire signals at night. 

I have already pointed out that any temple, dolmen 
or cromlech oriented to a sunrise or sunset at any dates 
between the solstices will receive the sunlight twice a 

If the temple is pointed nearly solstitially the two dates 
at which the sun appears in it will be near the solstice ; 
similarly, for a temple pointed nearly equinoctially the 
dates will be near the equinox ; but if the ancients wished 
to divide the ninety-one days' interval between the 
solstice and equinox, a convenient method of doing this 
would be to observe the sun at the half-time interval, 
such that the same temple would serve on both 

22 blUJNiirl^JNtj^ CHAP. 

occasions. This could be done by orienting the temple 
to the sun's place on the horizon when it had the 
decimation 16 20' on its upward and downward journey, 
or, in other words, was, in days, half-way between, 
the equinox and solstice. Thus, for the 45 days 

( = " ) from March 22, we have in 

March 9 

April 30 

May 6 


What, then, are the non-equinoctial, non-solstitial 
days of the year when the sun has this declination ? 

They are, in the sun's journey from the vernal 
equinox to the summer solstice and back again, 

May 6 and August 8 Sun's decl. K 16 20'. 

Similarly, for the journey to the winter solstice and 
return we have 

November 8 and February 4 ... Sun's decl. S. 16 20'. 

We get, then, a year symmetrical with the astro- 
nomical year, which can be indicated with it as in 
Fig. 7 ; a year roughly halving the intervals between 
the chief dates of the astronomical year. 

With regard to the dates shown I have already 
pointed out that farming operations would not occur at 
the same time in different lands ; that ploughing and 
seed time and harvest would vary with crops and 
latitudes ; and I must now add that when we wish to 


determine the exact days of the month we have to 
struggle with all the difficulties introduced by the various 
systems adopted by different ancient nations to bring 
together the reckoning of months by the moon and of 
years by the sun. 

In more recent times there is an additional difficulty 
owing to the incomplete reconstruction of the calendar 
by Julius Caesar, who gave us the Julian year. Thus, 

Summer solstice. 
June 21. 

August S, May 6. 


May 6, August S. 

Nov. 8, Feb. 4. 

Feb. 4, Nov. S. 

Dec. 23. 
Winter solstice. 

FIG. 7. The astronomical and vegetation divisions of the year. 

while the spring equinox occurred on March 21 at the 
time of the Council of Nice, in 325 A.D., by the year 
1751 the dating of the year on which it took place had 
slipped back to the 10th. Hence the Act 24 George II. 
c. 23, by which September 2, 1752, was followed by 
September 14 instead of by the 3rd, thus regaining the 
eleven days lost. This change from the so-called " old 
style " to the " new style " is responsible for a great 
deal of confusion. 


Another cause of trouble was the forsaking by the 
Jews of the solar year, with which they commenced, in 
favour of the Babylonian lunar year, which has been 
continued for the purposes of worship by Christians, 
giving us " movable feasts " to such an extent that 
Easter Day, which once invariably marked the spring 
equinox, may vary from March 22 to April 25, and 
Whit Sunday from May 10 to June 13. It is at once 
obvious that no fixed operations of Nature can be 
indicated by such variable dates as these. 

Hence in what follows 1 shall only deal with the 
months involved ; these amply suffice for a general 
statement, but a discussion as to exact dates may come 

To sum up, then, the astronomer-priests had (l) to 
watch the time at night by observing a star rising near 

O / O O 

the north point of the horizon. This star would act as a 
warner of sunrise at some time of the year. 

(2) To watch for the rising or setting of other stars 
in various azimuths warning sunrise at the other critical 
times of the May or Solstitial years. 

(3) To w r atch the sunrise and sunset. 

(4) To mark all rising or setting places of the warning 
stars and sun by sight-lines from the circle. 



WITH regard to the astronomical year it may be stated 
that each solstice and equinox has in turn in some 
country or another, and even in the same country at 
different times, been taken as the beginning of the year. 

We have, then, to begin with, the following which may 
be called astronomical years : 

Solstitial J June December June. 

year. [December June December. 

Equinoctial (March September March. 

year. [September March September. 

Next, if we treat the intermediate points we have 
found in the same way, we have the following vegeta- 
tion years : 

Flower /May November May. 

year. [November May November. 

Harvest /August February August. 

year. [February August February. 

It will have been gathered from Fig. 7 that the 
temples or cromlechs erected to watch the first sunrise of 
the May-November-May year could also perform the same 
office for the August-February-August year ; and in a 


stone circle the priests, by looking along the axis almost 
in an opposite direction, could note the sunsets mark- 
ing the completion of the half of the sun's yearly round 
in November and February. 

Now to those who know anything of the important 
contributions of Grimm, Khs, Frazer, and many others 
we might name, to our knowledge of the mythology, 
worships, and customs in the Mediterranean basin and 
western Europe, an inspection of the first columns in the 
above tables will show that here we have a common 
meeting-ground for temple orientation, vegetation and 
customs depending on it, religious festivals, and mythology. 
From the Egyptian times at least to our own a generic 
sun -god has been specifically commemorated in each of 
the named months. Generic customs with specific differ- 
ences are as easily traced in the same months ; while 
generic vegetation with specific representatives proper to 
the season of the year has been so carefully regarded that 
even December, though without May flowers or August 
harvests, not to be outdone, brings forward its offering in 
the shape of the berries of the mistletoe and holly. 

About the mistletoe there is this difficulty. Innumer- 
able traditions associate it with worship and the oak 
tree. Undoubtedly the year in question was the sol- 
stitial year, so that so far as this goes the association 
is justified. But as a rule the mistletoe does not grow 
on oaks. This point has been frequently inquired into, 
especially by Dr. Henry Ball (Journal of Botany, vol. 
ii. p. 361, 1864) in relation to the growth of the plant in 
Herefordshire, and by a writer in the Quarterly Review 
(vol. cxiv.), who spoke of the mistletoe " deserting the 
oak" in modern times and stated, "it is now so rarely 


found on that tree as to have led to the suggestion that 
we must look for the mistletoe of the Druids, not in the 
Viscum album of our own trees and orchards, but in the 
Loranthus Europaeus which is frequently found on oaks 
in the south of Europe." 

On this point 1 consulted two eminent botanical 
friends, Mr. Murray, of the British Museum, arid Prof. 
Farmer, from whom I have learned that the distribution 
of V. album is in Europe universal except north of 
Norway and north of Russia ; in India in the temperate 
Himalayas from Kashmir to Nepaul, altitude 3000 to 
7000 feet. 

The Viscum aureum, otherwise called Loranthus 
Europaeus, is a near relation of the familiar mistletoe, 
and in Italy grows on the oak almost exclusively. There 
are fifty species of Loranthus in the Indian flora, but 
L. Europaeus does not occur. 

In the Viscum aureum we have the " golden bough," 
the oak-borne Aurum frondens and Ramus aureus of 
Virgil ; and it can easily be imagined that when the 
Druids reached our shores from a country which had 
supplied them with the Viscum aureum, this would be 
replaced by the V. album growing chiefly on apple 
trees and not on oaks ; indeed, Mr. Davies, in his 
" Celtic Researches," tells us that the apple was the 
next sacred tree to the oak, and that apple orchards 
were planted in the vicinity of the sacred groves. The 
transplanting of the mistletoe from the apple to the 
oak tree before the mystic ceremonies began was not 
beyond the resources of priestcraft. 

It must not be forgotten that these ceremonies took 
.place at both solstices once in June, when the oak was- 


in full leaf, and again in December, when the parasitic 
plant was better visible in the light of the young moon. 
Mr. Frazer, in his "Golden Bough" (iii. p. 328), points 
out that at the summer solstice not only was mistletoe 
gathered, but many other " magic plants, whose evan- 
escent virtue can be secured at this mystic season 

It is the ripening of the berries at the winter solstice 
which secured for the mistletoe the paramount import- 
.ance the ceremonials connected with it possessed at 
that time, when the rest of the vegetable world was 

AVith regard especially to the particular time of the 
year chosen for sun-worship and the worship of the 
gods and solar heroes connected with the years to 
which I have referred, I may add that the vague year 
in Egyptian chronology makes it a very difficult matter 
to determine the exact Gregorian dates for the ancient 
Egyptian festivals, but, fortunately, there is another 
way of getting at them. Mr. Roland Mitchell, when 
compiling his valuable "Egyptian Calendar" (Luzac and 
<Co., 1900), found that the Koptic calendar really pre- 
sents to us the old Egyptian year, " which has been in 
use for thousands of years, and has survived all the 

Of the many festivals included in the calendar, the 


great Tanta fair, which is also a Mohammedan feast, 
*' is the most important of all held in Egypt. Religion, 
commerce, and pleasure offer combined attractions." As 
many as 600,000 or 700,000 often attend this great 
fair, " no doubt the survival of one of the ancient 
Egyptian national festivals." 


It is held so as to end on a Friday, and in 1901 the 
Friday was August 9 ! 

This naturally suggests that we should look for a 
feast in the early part of May. We find the Festival 
of Al-Khidr, or Elias in the middle of the wheat 
harvest in Lower Egypt ; of this we read : 

" Al-Khidr is a mysterious personage, who, according 
to learned opinion, was a just man, or saint, the Vislr 
of Dhu'l-Karnen (who was a great conqueror, contem- 
porary with Ibrahim Abraham and identified in other 
legends with Alexander the Great, St. George, &c.). 
Al-Khidr, it is believed, still lives, and will live until 
the Day of Judgment. He is clad in green garments, 
whence probably the name. He is commonly identified 
with Elias (Elijah), and this confusion seems due to a 
confusion or similarity of some of the attributes that 
tradition assigns to both." 

"The 'Festival of El-Khidr and of Elias,' falling 
generally on May 6, marks the two-fold division of the 
year, in the Turkish and Armenian calendars, into the 
Ruz Kasim and the Ruz Khidr (of 179-80 and 185-6 
days respectively." 

This last paragraph is important, as it points to 
ancient sun-worship, Helios being read for Elias ; and 179 
days from May 6 bring us to November 1. So we find 
that the modern Turks and Armenians have the old 
May-November year as well as the ancient Egyptians 
who celebrated it in the Temple of Menu at Thebes. 

The traces of the Ptah worship are not so obvious. 
Finally, it may be stated that the second Tanta fair 
occurs at the spring equinox, so that the pyramid 
worship can still be traced in the modern Egyptian 


calendar. The proof that this was an exotic l is estab- 
lished, I think, by the fact that no important agri- 
cultural operations occur at this period in Egypt, while 
in May we have the harvest, in August and November 
sowing, going on. 

A cursory examination of Prof. Rhys' book containing 
the Hibbert Lectures of 1886, in the light of these 
years, used as clues, suggests that in Ireland the 
sequence was May-November (Fomori and Fir Bolg), 
August-February (Lug and the Tuatha De Danann), 
and, lastly, June-December (Ciichulainn). Should this 
be confirmed we see that the farmers' years were the 
first to be established, and it is interesting to note that 
the agricultural rent year in many parts of Ireland still 
runs from May to November. It is well also to bear 
in mind, if it be established that the solstitial year 
did really arrive last, that the facts recorded by Mr. 
Frazer in his "Golden Bough" indicate that the 
custom of lighting fires on hills has been in historic 
times most prevalent at the summer solstice ; evidently 
maps showing the geographical distribution of the May, 
June, and August fires would be of great value. 

Some customs of the May and August years are 
common to the solstitial and equinoctial years. Each 
was ushered in by fires on hills and the like ; flowers 
in May and the fruits of the earth in August are 
associated with them ; there are also special customs 
in the case of November. In western Europe, however, 
it does not seem that such traditions exist over such a 

1 In Babylonia the spring equinox was the critical time of the year 
because the Tigris and Euphrates then began to rise. 



large area as that over which the remnants of the 
solstitial practices have been traced. 

I have pointed out that both the May and August 
years began when the sun had the same declination 
(16 N. or thereabouts) ; once, on its ascent from March 
to the summer solstice in June, again in its decline 
from the solstice to September. Hence it may be more 
difficult in this case to disentangle and follow the 
mythology, but the two years stand out here and 
there. "With regard to August, Mr. Penrose's orientation 
data for the Panathensea fix the 19th day (Gregorian) 
for the festival in the Hecatompedon ; similar celebra- 
tions were not peculiar to western Europe and Greece, 
as a comparison of dates of worship will show. 

Hecatompedon... ... ... ... April 28 and August 16. 

Older Erechtheum ... ... ... April 29 August 13. 

Temple of Diana, Ephesus ... ... April 29 August 13. 

Min, Thebes May 1 August 12. 

,, Ptah, Memphis ... ... April 18 August 24. 

,, ,, Annu ... ... April 18 August 24. 

,, Solar Disc, Tell el-Amarna April 18 August 24. 

In the above table I have given both the dates on 
which the sunlight (at rising or setting) entered the 
temple, but we do not know for certain, except in the 
case of the Hecatompedon, on which of the two days 
the temples were used ; it is likely they were all used 
on both days, and that the variation from the dates 
proper to the sun's declination of N. 16 indicates that 
they were very accurately oriented to fit the local 
vegetation conditions in the most important and exten- 
sive temple fields in the world. 


This is the more probable because the Jews also, after 
they had left Egypt, established their feast of Pente- 
cost fifty days after Easter = May 10, on which day 
loaves made of newly harvested corn formed the chief 

With regard to the equinoctial year, the most com- 
plete account of the temple arrangements is to be found 
in Josephus touching that at Jerusalem. The temple 
had to be so erected that at the spring equinox the 
sunrise light should fall on, and be reflected to, the 
worshippers by the sardonyx stones on the high priest's- 
garment. At this festival the first barley was laid upon 
the altar. 

But this worship was in full swing in E^ypt for 
thousands of years before we hear of it in connection 
with the Jews. It has left its temples at Ephesus, 
Athens, and other places, and w r ith the opening of this 
year as well as of the solstitial one the custom of 
lighting fires is associated, not only on hills, but also 
in churches. 

Here the sequence of cult cannot be mistaken. We 
begin with Isis and the young Sun-god Horus at the 
Pyramids, and we end with " Lady Day," a British legal 
date ; while St. Peter's at Rome is as truly oriented 
to the equinox as the Pyramids themselves, so that 
we have a distinct change of cult with no change of 

If such considerations as these help us to connect 
Egyptian with British worships we may hope that they 
will be no less useful when we go further afield. I 
gather from a study of Mr. Maudslay's admirable plans- 
of Palenque and Chichen-Itza that the solstitial and 




farmers' years' worships were provided for there. How 
did these worships and associated temples with naos 
and sphinxes * get from Egypt to Yucatan ? The more 
we know of ancient travel the more we are convinced 
that it was coastwise, that is, from one point of visible 
land to the next. Are the cults as old as differences 
in the coast-lines which would most easily explain their 
wide distribution ? 

1 See Dawn of Astronomy, Plate facing p. 182, for the lines of 
sphinxes at Karnak. 



AFTER Mr. Penrose, by his admirable observations in 
Greece, had shown that the orientation theory accounted 
as satisfactorily for the directions in which the chief 
temples in Greece had been built as I had shown it did 
for some in Egypt, it seemed important to apply the 
same methods of inquiry with all available accuracy to 
some example, at all events, of the various stone circles 
in Britain which have so far escaped destruction. Many 
attempts had been previously made to secure data, but 
the instruments and methods employed did not seem to 
be sufficient. 

Much time has, indeed, been lost in the investigation 
of a great many of these circles, for the reason that in 
many cases the relations of the monuments to the chief 
points of the horizon have not been considered ; and 
when they were, the observations were made only with 
reference to the magnetic north, which is different at 
different places, and besides is always varying ; few in- 
deed have tried to get at the astronomical conditions of 
the problem. 


The first, I think, was Mr. Jonathan Otley, who 
in 1849 showed the "Orientation" of the Keswick 
Circle " according to the solar meridian," giving true 
solar bearings throughout the year. 

I wrote a good deal in Nature 1 on sun and star 
temples in 1891, and Mr. Lewis the next year ex- 
pressed the opinion that the British Stone Monuments, 
or some of them, were sun and star temples. 

Mr. Magnus Spence of Deerness in Orkney published 
a pamphlet, " Standing Stones and Maeshowe of Sten- 
ness, 2 ' in 1894; it is a reprint of an article in the 
Scottish Review, Oct. 1893. Mr. Cursiter, F.S.A., of 
Kirkwall, in a letter to me dated 15 March 1894, 
a letter suggested by my Dawn of Astronomy which 
appeared in that year and in which the articles which 
had appeared in Nature in 1891 had been expanded, 
drew my attention to the pamphlet ; the obser- 
vations had no pretension to scientific accuracy, and 
although some of the sight-lines were incorrectly shown 
in an accompanying map, May year and solstitial align- 
ments were indicated. 

So far as I know, there has never been a complete 
inquiry into the stone circles in Britain, but Mr. Lewis, 
who has paid great attention to these matters, has dealt 
in a general manner with them (Archaeological Journal, 
vol. xlix. p. 136), and has further described (Journal 
Anthropological Institute, n.s., iii., 1900) the observa- 
tions made by him of stone circles in various parts of 
Scotland. From an examination of the latter he con- 

1 See especially Nature, July 2, 1891 p. 201. 

2 Gardner, Paisley and London. 

D 2 


eludes that they may be divided into different types, 
each of which has its centre in a different locality. The 
types are (l) the Western Scottish type, consisting of a 
rather irregular single ring or sometimes of two con- 
centric rings ; (2) the Inverness type, consisting of a 
more regular ring of better-shaped stones, surrounding a 
tumulus with a retaining wall, containing a built-up 
chamber and passage leading to it, or a kist without a 
passage ; (3) the Aberdeen type, consisting of a similar 
ring with the addition of a so-called " altar-stone " and 
usually having traces of a tumulus and kisb in the 
middle. In addition to these three types of circles, 
there are in Britain generally what Mr. Lewis calls sun 
and star circles, with their alignments of stones, and 
apparently proportioned measurements. He has shown 
that there is a great preponderance of outlying stones 
and hill-tops lying between the circles and the N.E. 
quarter of the horizon. From what has been stated 
in Chapter III with regard to the nightly observations of 
stars it will be gathered that these may have been used 
for this purpose. 

The following list gives some of the bearings of 
outlying stones and other circles from the centres of 
the named circles : 

Roll-rich, Oxon. Kingstone ... ... ... N. 27 E. 

Stripple Stones, Cornwall Bastion on bank ... N. 26 E. 

Long Meg, Cumberland Small circle... ... N. 27 E. 

The. Hurlers, Cornwall Two outlying circles ... N. 13-16 E. 

Trippet Stones Leaze circle ... ... N. 1 1 E. 

\ If these alignments mean anything they must of course 
refer Jx> the rising of stars, as the position on the horizon 
is__oiitside the sun's path . 


The many circles in Cornwall have been dealt with by 
Mr. Lukis in a volume published by the Society of 
Antiquaries in 1895. 1 A carefully prepared list of 
circles will be found in Mr. Windle's recently published 
work entitled " Remains of the Prehistoric Age in 

It may be useful here to state, with regard to mega- 

/ O o 

lithic remains generally, that they may be classed as 
follows ; some details will be discussed later on. 

(a) Circles. These may be single, double, or multiple, 
and either concentric or not. 

(b) Menhirs, large single stones, used to mark sight - 
lines from circles. 

(c) Alignments, i.e., lines of stones in single, double, 
ox in many parallel lines. If these alignments are short 
they are termed avenues. 

(d) Holed-stones, doubtless used for observing sight - 
lines, sometimes over a circle. 

(e) Coves. A term applied by Dr. Stukeley and others 
to what they considered shrines formed by three up- 
right stones, thus leaving one side open. I take them 
to be partially protected observing places. There are 
well-marked examples at Avebury, Stanton Drew and 
Kit's Coity House. 

(f) Cromlechs. This term generally means a grouping 
of upright stones ; it is applied to irregular circles in 
Brittany. It also applies to a stone or stones raised on 
the summits of three or more pillar stones forming the 
end and sides of an irregular vault generally open 
at one end (" Dolmens of Ireland," Borlase, p. 429). 

1 "The Prehistoric Stone Monuments of the British Isles 


The top stone is called in S.W. England a "quoit." 
Cromlechs in most cases have been covered by barrows 
or cairns. 

(g) Dolmens, from Dol Men, a table stone. These 
consist of stones, resting on two or more upright 
stones forming a more or less complete chamber, 
some of which are of great length. I note the 
following subdivisions: "Dolmen a galerie" having an 
entrance way of sufficient height, and " Galgal," similar 
but smaller. In the "Dolmen & 1'allee couverte" 
there is a covered passage way to the centre. It 
is a more elaborate cove. For the relation between 
cromlechs and dolmens, see Borlase (loc. cit. and 
p. 424 et seq.). 

With regard to dolmens, I give the following quota- 
tion from Mr. Penrose (Nature, vol. Ixiv., September 12, 
1901) :- 

" Near Locmariaquer in the estuary named Kiviere 
d'Auray, there is an island named Gavr' Inis, or Goat 
Island, which contains a good specimen of the kind of 
dolmen which has been named ' Galgal.' 

" At the entrance our attention is at once arrested by 
the profusion of tracery which covers the walls. From 
the entrance to the wall facing us the distance is be- 
tween 50 and 60 feet. The square chamber to which 
the gallery leads is composed of two huge slabs, the 
sides of the room and gallery being composed of upright 
stones, about a dozen on each side. The mystic lines 
and hieroglyphics similar to those above mentioned 
appear to have a decorative character. 

" An interesting feature of Gavr' Inis is its remark- 
able resemblance to the New Grange tumulus at Meath. 


In construction there is again a strong resemblance to 
Mses-Howe, in the island of Orkney. There is also 
some resemblance in smaller details." 

While we generally have circles in Britain without, 
or with small, alignments ; in Brittany we have align- 
ments without circles, some of them being on an enor- 
mous scale ; l thus at Menec (the place of stones) we 
have eleven lines of menhirs, terminating towards the 
west in a cromlech, and, notwithstanding that great 
numbers have been converted to other uses, 1169 
menhirs still remain, some reaching as much as 18 feet 
in height. 

The alignments of Kermario (the place of the dead) 
contain 989 menhirs in ten lines. Those of Kerlescant 
(the place of burning), which beginning with eleven 
rows are afterwards increased to thirteen, contain alto- 
gether 579 stones and thirty-nine in the cromlech, with 
some additional stones. The adoration paid these stones 
yielded very slowly to Christianity. In the church 
history of Brittany the Cultus Lapidum was denounced 
in 658 A.D. 

Many of the fallen menhirs in these alignments have 
been restored to their upright position by the French 
Government. Some of them may have been overturned 
in compliance with the decree of 658 A.D. above referred 
to. Several of the loftier menhirs are surmounted by 
crosses of stone or iron. 

Both circles and alignments are associated with holi- 
days and the lighting of fires on certain days of the 

1 " The French Stonehenge : An Account of the Principal Mega- 
lithic Remains in the Morbihan Archipelago." By T. Cato Worsfold, 
F.R.Hist.S., F.R.S.I. (London : Bemrose and Sons, Ltd.) 


year. This custom has remained more general in Brit- 
tany than in Britain. At Mount St. Michael, near 
Carnac, the custom still prevails of lighting a large 
bonfire on its summit at the time of the summer sol- 
stice ; others, kindled on prominent eminences for a 
distance of twenty or thirty miles round, reply to it. 
These fires are locally called " Tan Heol," and also by a 
later use, Tan St. Jean. In Scotland there was a 
similar custom in the first week in May under the name 
of Bel Tan, or Baal's Fire ; the synonym for summer 
used by Sir Walter Scott in the " Lady of the 
Lake " : 

Ours is no sapling chance-sown by the fountain, 
Blooming at Beltane in winter to fade. 

At Kerlescant the winter solstice is celebrated by a 
holiday, whilst Menec greets the summer solstice, and 
Kermario the equinoxes, with festivals. Concerning 
these fires and the associated customs Mr. Frazer's 
" Golden Bough " is a perfect mine of information and 
should be consulted. It may simply be said here that the 
May and November, and June and December fires seem 
to be the most ancient. It is stated that the Balder 
bale fires on Mayday Eve were recognised by the primi- 
tive race, and I shall prove this in the sequel when 
British customs are referred to. On the introduction 
of Christianity the various customs were either trans- 
ferred to or reorganised in association with church 
festivals ; but as some of these, such as Easter, are 
movable feasts, it is difficult to follow the dates. 

Regarding both circles and alignments in the light 
of the orientation theory, we may consider simple 


circles with a central stone as a collection of sight- 
lines from the central stone to one or more of the 
outer ones, or the interval between any two ; indicat- 
ing the place of the rise or setting of either the sun 
or a star on some particular day of the year, which 
day, in the case of the sun, will be a new year's 

Alignments, on the other hand, will play the same 
part as the sight-lines in the circles. 

Sometimes the sight-line may be indicated by a 
menhir outside, and even at a considerable distance 
from, the circle ; later on tumuli replaced menhirs. 

The dolmens have, I am convinced, been in many 
cases not graves originally, but darkened observing 
places whence to observe along a sight-line ; this would 
be best done by means of an allee couverte, the pre- 
decessor of the darkened naos at Stonehenge, shielded 
by its covered trilithons. 

In order to obtain some measurements to test the 
orientation theory in Britain, I found that Stonehenge 
is the ancient monument in this country which lends 
itself to accurate theodolite work better than any 
other. Mr. Spence's excellent work on astronomical 
lines at Stenness, where the stones, till some years ago 
at all events, have been more respected than further 
south, suggested a beginning there, but the distance 
from London made it impossible. 

Avebury and Stanton Drew are well known to a 
great many archaeologists ; there are also other very 
wonderful stone circles near Keswick and in other 
parts of England ; but unfortunately it is very much 
more difficult to get astronomical data from these 


.ancient monuments than it is in the case of Stone- 
henge, one reason being that Stonehenge itself lies 
hio-h, and the horizon round it in all directions is 

O ' 

pretty nearly the same height, so that the important 
question of the heights of the hills along the sight- 
line a matter which is fundamental from an astro- 
nomical point of view, although it has been neglected, 
so far as I can make out, by most who have made 
observations on these ancient monuments is quite a 
simple one at Stonehenge. Hence it was much easier 
to determine a date there than by working at any of 
the other ancient remains to which I have referred. 

In orientation generally such orientation as has 
been dealt with by Mr. Penrose and myself in Egypt 
.and in Greece the question frequently was a change 
in direction in the axis of a temple, or the laying 
down of the axis of a temple, by means of observations 
of stars. Unfortunately for us as archaeologists, not 
as astronomers, the changes of position of the stars, 
owing to certain causes, chiefly the precessional move- 
ment, are very considerable ; so that if a temple 
pointed to a star in one year, in two or three hun- 
clred years it would no longer point to the same star, 
but to another. 

:>These star observations were requisite in order to 
warn the priests about an hour before sunrise so that 
they might prepare for the morning sacrifice which 
always took place at the first appearance of the sun. 
Hence the morning star to be visible in the dawn 
must be a bright one, and the further north or south 
of the sun's rising place it rose, the more easily it 
would be seen. Some stars so chosen rose not far 


from the north point of the horizon. The alignments 
with small azimuths referred to in the British circles 
(p. 36) I believe to be connected with the Egyptian 
and Greek practice. 

Acting on a very old tradition, some people from 
Salisbury and other surrounding places go to observe 
the sunrise on the longest day of the year at Stone- 
henge. We therefore are perfectly justified in assum- 
ing that it was a solar temple used for observation in 
the height of midsummer. But at dawn in midsummer 
in thess latitudes the sky is so bright that it is not 
easy to see stars even if we get up in the morning to 
look for them ; stars, therefore, were not in question, so 
that some other principle had to be adopted, and that 
was to point the temple directly to the position on the 
horizon at which the sun rose on that particular day 
of the year, and no other. 

Now, if there were no change in the position of the 
sun, that, of course, would go on for ever and ever ; 
but, fortunately for archaeologists, there is a slight 
change in the position of the sun, as there is in the 
case of a star, but for a different reason ; the planes 
of the ecliptic and of the equator undergo a slight 
change in the angle included between them. So far 
as we know, that angle has been gradually getting less 
for many thousands of years, so that, in the case of 
Stonehenge, if we wish to determine the date, having 
no stars to help us, the only thing that we can hope 
to get any information from is the very slow change 
of this angle ; that, therefore, was the special point 
which Mr. Penrose and T were anxious to study at 
Stonehenge, for the reason that we seemed in a position 




FIG. 8. The original tooling of the stone protected from the action of the 


to do it there more conveniently than anywhere else 
in Britain. 

But while the astronomical conditions are better at 


Sttinhenge than elsewhere, the ruined state of the 
monument makes accurate measurements very difficult. 

Great age and the action of weather are respon- 
sible for much havoc, so that very many of the stones 
are now recumbent, as will be gathered from an article 

FIG. 9. View of Stonehenge from the west. A, stone which fell in 1900; 
BB, stones which fell in 1797. (Reproduced from an article on the fallen 
stones by Mr. Lewis in Man.) 

by Mr. Lewis, who described the condition of the 
monument in 1901, in Man. 

Professor Gowland in his excavations at Stonehenge, 
to which I shall refer in the sequel, found the original 
tooled surface near the bottom of one of the large 
sarsens which had been protected from the action of 
the weather by having been buried in the ground. It 
enables us to imagine the appearance of the monument 
as it left the hands of the builders (Fig. 8). 


But the real destructive agent has been man him- 
self; savages could not have played more havoc with 



FIG. 10. Copy of Hoare's plan of 1810, showing ihe unbroken Vallum and 
its relation with the Avenue. 

the monument than the English who have visited it at 
different times for different purposes. It is said the 


fall of one great stone was caused in 1620 by some 
excavations, but this has been doubted ; the fall of 
another in 1797 was caused by gipsies digging a hole 
in which to shelter, and boil their kettle ; many 
of the stones have been used for building walls and 
bridges ; masses weighing from 56 Ib. downwards have 
been broken off by hammers or cracked oif as a result 
of fires lighted by excursionists. 

It appears that the temenos wall or vallum, which 
is shown complete in Hoare's plan of 1810, is now 
broken down in many places by vehicles indis- 
criminately driven over it. Indeed, its original 
importance has now become so obliterated that many 
do not notice it as part of the structure that, in 
fact, it bears the same relation to the interior stone 
circle as the nave of St. Paul's does to the Lady 
Chapel (Fig. 10). 

It is within the knowledge of all interested in archae- 
ology that not long ago Sir Edmund Antrobus, the 
owner of Stonehenge, advised by the famous Wiltshire 
local society, the Society for the Protection of Ancient 
Buildings, and the Society of Antiquaries, enclosed the 
monument in order to preserve it from further wanton 
destruction, and a first step in the way of restora- 
tion with the skilled assistance of Prof. Gowland and 
Messrs. Carruthers, Detmar Blow and Stallybrass, set 
upright the most important menhir, which threatened 
to fall or else break off at one of the cracks. This 
menhir, the so-called " leaning stone," once formed one 
of the uprights of the trilithon the fall of the other 
member of which is stated by Mr. Lewis to have 
occurred before 1574. The latter, broken in two pieces^ 

4 8 



FIG. 11. The Leaning Stone in 1901. 

and the supported impost, now lie prostrate across 
the altar stone. 

This piece of work was carried out with consummate 


skill and care, and most important conclusions, as we 
shall see in a subsequent chapter, were derived from 
the minute inquiry into the conditions revealed in the 
excavations which were necessary for the proper conduct 
of the work. 

Let us hope that we have heard the last of the 
work of devastators, and even that, before long, some 
of the other larger stones, now inclined or prostrate, 
may be set upright. 

Since Sir Edmund Antrobus, the present owner, has 
acted on the advice of the societies I have named to 
enclose the monument, with a view to guard it from 
destruction and desecration, he has been assailed on 
all sides. It is not a little surprising that the " un- 
climbable wire fence " recommended by the societies 
in question (the Bishop of Bristol being the president 
of the Wiltshire society at the time) is by some re- 
garded as a suggestion that the property is not national, 
the fact being that the nation has not bought the 
property, and that it has been private property for 
centuries, and treated in the way we have seen. 

Let us hope also that before long the gaps in the 
vallum may be filled up. These, as I have already 
stated, take away from the meaning of an important 
part of one of the most imposing monuments of the 
world. In the meantime, it is comforting to know that, 
thanks to what Sir Edmund Antrobus has done, no 
more stones will be stolen, or broken by sledge-hammers ; 
that fires ; that excavations such as were apparently 
the prime cause of the disastrous fall of one of the 
majestic trilithons in 1797 ; that litter, broken bottles 




and the like, with which too many British sightseers 
mark their progress, besides much indecent desecration, 
are things of the past. 

If Stonehenge had been built in Italy, or France, or 
Germany, it would have been in charge of the State 
long ago. 

I now pass from the monument itself to a reference 
to some of the traditions and historical statements 
concerning it. 

Those who are interested in these matters should 
thank the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History 
Society, which is to be warmly congratulated on its 
persistent and admirable efforts to do all in its power to 
enable the whole nation to learn about the venerable 
monuments of antiquity which it has practically taken 
under its scientific charge. It has published two most 
important volumes l dealing specially with Stonehenge, 
including both its traditions and history. 

With regard to Mr. Long's memoir, it may be stated 
that it includes important extracts from notices of 
Stonehenge from the time of Henry of Huntingdon 
(twelfth century) to Hoare (1812), and that all extant 
information is given touching on the questions by 
whom the stones were erected, whence they came, and 
what was the object of the structure. 

From Mr. Harrison's more recently published biblio- 
graphy, no reference to Stonehenge by any ancient 
author, no letter to the Times for the last twenty 

1 The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine : 
" Stonehenge and its Barrows." By William Long, M.A., F.S.A. 1876. 
The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine : " Stone- 
henge Bibliography Number." By W. Jerome Harrison. 1902. 


years dealing with any question touching the monu- 
ments, seems to be omitted. 

It is very sad to read, both in Mr. Long's volume 
and the bibliography, of the devastation which has 
been allowed to go on for so many years and of the 
various forms it has taken. 

As almost the whole of the notes which follow deal 
with the assumption of Stonehenge having been a solar 
temple, a short reference to the earliest statements con- 
cerning this view is desirable ; and, again, as the ap- 
proximate date arrived at by Mr. Penrose and myself 
in 1901 is an early one, a few words may be added in- 
dicating the presence in Britain at that time of a race 
of men capable of designing and executing such work. 
I quote from the paper communicated by Mr. Penrose 
and myself to the Royal Society : 

"As to the first point, Diodorus Siculus (ii., 47, ed. 
Didot, p. 116) has preserved a statement of Hecatseus 
in which Stonehenge alone can by any probability be 
referred to. 

" ' We think that no one will consider it foreign to 
our subject to say a word respecting the Hyperboreans. 

" ' Amongst the writers who have occupied themselves 
with the mythology of the ancients, Hecatseus and some 
others tell us that opposite the land of the Celts [ez> rot? 
avmrepav TTJS KeXriKrjs TOTTOIS] there exists in the Ocean 
an island not smaller than Sicily, and which, situated 
under the constellation of The Bear, is inhabited by the 
Hyperboreans ; so called because they live beyond the 
point from which the North wind blows. ... If one 
may believe the same mythology, Latona was born in 

E 2 


this island, and for that reason the inhabitants honour 
Apollo more than any other deity. A sacred enclosure 
[vfjffov] is dedicated to him in the island, as well as 
a magnificent circular temple adorned with many rich 
offerings. . . . The Hyperboreans are in general very 
friendly to the Greeks.' ' 

"The Hecatseus above referred to was probably 
Hecateeus of Abdera, in Thrace, fourth century B.C. ; 
a friend of Alexander the Great. This Hecatseus is 
said to have written a history of the Hyperboreans : 
that it was Hecatseus of Miletus, an historian of the 
sixth century B.C., is less likely. 

"As to the second point, although we cannot go so 
far back in evidence of the power and civilisation of 
the Britons, there is an argument of some value to 
be drawn from the fine character of the coinage issued 
by British kings early in the second century B.C., and 
from the statement of Julius Csesar (' De Bello Gallico,' 
vi., c. 14) that in the schools of the Druids the subjects 
taught included the movements of the stars, the size 
of the earth, and the nature of things (multa prseterea 
de sideribus et eorum motu, de mundi magnitudirie, 
de rerum natura, de deorum immortalium vi ac potes- 
tate disputant et juventuti tradunt). 

" Studies of such a character seem quite consistent 
with, and to demand, a long antecedent period of 

Henry of Huntingdon is the first English writer to 
refer to Stonehenge, which he calls Stanenges. Geoffrey 
of Monmouth (1138) and Giraldus Cambrensis come next. 

In 1771, Dr. John Smith, in a work entitled "Choir 
Gawr, the Grand Orrery of the Ancient Druids, called 


Stonehenge, Astronomically Explained, and proved to 
be a Temple for Observing the Motions of the Heavenly 
Bodies," wrote as follows : 

" From many and repeated visits, I conceived it to 
be an astronomical temple ; and from what I could 
recollect to have read of it, no author had as yet in- 
vestigated its uses. Without an instrument or any 
assistance whatever, but White's ' Ephemeris,' I began 
my survey. I suspected the stone called The Friar s 
Heel to be the index that would disclose the uses of 
this structure ; nor was I deceived. This stone stands 
in a right line with the centre of the temple, pointing 
to the north-east. I first drew a circle round the 
vallum of the ditch and divided it into 360 equal 
parts ; and then a right line through the body of the 
temple to the Friar's Heel ; at the intersection of these 
lines 1 reckoned the sun's greatest amplitude at the 
summer solstice, in this latitude, to be about 60 degrees, 
and fixed the eastern points accordingly. Pursuing 
this plan, I soon discovered the uses of all the detached 
stones, as well as those that formed the body of the 

With regard to this " Choir Gawr," translated Chorea 
Gigantum, Leland's opinion is quoted (Long, p. 51) 
that we should read Choir vawr, the equivalent of 
which is Chorea nobilis or magna. 1 

In spite of Inigo Jones's (1600) dictum that Stone- 
henge was of Eoman origin, Stukeley came to the con- 
clusion in 1723 that the Druids were responsible for 

1 Mr. Morien Morgan informs me that Cor y Gawres is correct, 
and means Choir of the Giantess Cariadwen, the Welsh Neith, 
Nyth (Nydd). 


its building; and Halley, who visited it in 1720 
probably with Stukeley concluded from the weathering 
of the stones that it was at least 3000 years old ; if 
he only had taken his theodolite with him, how much 
his interest in the monument would have been increased ! 



ALTHOUGH I have before hinted that the astrono- 
mical use of the Egyptian temples and British circles 
was the same, there is at first sight a vast difference 
in the general plan of structure. 

This has chiefly depended upon the fact that the 
riches and population of ancient Egypt were so great 
that that people could afford to build a temple to a 
particular star, or to the sun's position on any par- 
ticular day of the year. The temple axis along the line 
pointing to the celestial body involved, then became 
the chief feature, and tens of years were spent in 
lengthening, constricting and embellishing it. 

From one end of an Egyptian temple to the other 
we find the axis marked out by narrow apertures in 
the various pylons, and many walls with doors crossing 
the axis. There are seventeen or eighteen of these 
apertures in the solar temple of Amen-Ra at Karnak, 
limiting the light which falls into the Holy of Holies 
or Sanctuary. This construction gives one a very 
definite impression that every part of the temple was 
built no subserve a special object, viz., to limit the 
sunlighv which fell on its front into a narrow beam, 




FIG 12 The axis of the Temple of Karnak, looking south-east, from outside 
the north-west pylon (from a photograph by the author). 

and to carry it to the other extremity of the :emple 
-into the sanctuary, where the high priest performed 


his functions. The sanctuary was always blocked. 
There is no case in which the beam of light can pass 
absolutely through a temple (Figs. 12 and 13). 

In Britain the case was different, there was neither 
skill nor workers sufficient to erect such stately piles, 
and as a consequence one structure had to do the 
work of several and it had to be done in the most 
economical way. Hence the circle with the observer 
at the centre and practically a temple axis in every 
direction among which could be chosen the chief direc 
tions required, each alignment being defined by stories, 
more or less distant, or openings in the circle itself. 

Now for some particulars with regard to those parts 
__of Stonehenge which lend themselves to the inquiry. 

The main architecture of Stonehenge consisted of an 

I external circle of about 100 feet in diameter, composed 

of thirty large upright stones, named sarsens, connected 

by continuous lintels. The upright stones formerly 

stood 14 feet above the surface of the ground. They 

have nobs or tenons on the top which fit into mortice 

holes in the lintels. Within this peristyle there was 

originally an inner structure of ten still larger upright 

stones, arranged in the shape of a horseshoe, formed 

by five isolated trilithons which rose progressively 

rom N.E. to S.W., the loftiest stones being 25 feet 

^ove the ground. About one-half of these uprights 

vve fallen, and a still greater number of the imposts 

Itch they originally carried. 

here is also another circle of smaller upright stones, 

acting which the only point requiring notice now is 

none of them would have interrupted the line of 

bds of the avenue. The circular temple was 


FIG. 13. Plan of the Temple of Ramses II. in the Memnonia at 
_ Lepsius), showing the pylon at the open end, the various doors al</ J ' 

axis, the sanctuary at the closed end, and the temple at right angkhed. 


surrounded by the earthen bank, shown in Fig. 15, o' J 
about 300 feet in diameter, interrupted towards the ur . 


north-east by receiving into itself the banks formin 
avenue before mentioned, which is about 50 feet 



Vithin this avenue, no doubt an old via sacra, and 
coking north-east from the centre of the temple, at 
Vbout 250 feet distance and considerably to the right 

.and of the axis, stands an isolated stone, which from 
medieeval legend has been named the Friar's Heel. 


. 1.5. General plan ; the outer circle, naos and avenue of Stonehenge. 
F.H. = Friar's Heel. 

e axis passes very nearly centrally through an 

-olumniation (so to call it) between two uprights 

3 external circle and between the uprights of the 

-nmost trilithon as it originally stood. Of this 

on the southernmost upright with the lintel 

te fell in 1620, but the companion survived as the 




leaning stone which formed a conspicuous and pictur- 
esque object for many years, but happily now restored 
to its original more dignified and safer condition of 
verticality. The inclination of this stone, however, took 
place in the direction of the axis of the avenue, and 
as the distance between it and its original companion 
is known both by the analogy of the two perfect tri- 
lithons and by the measure of the mortice holes on 
the lintel they formerly supported, we obtain by bisec- 
tion the distance, 11 inches, from its edge, of a point 
in the continuation of the central axis of the avenue 
and temple. 

The banks which form the avenue have suffered much 
degradation. It appears from Sir Richard Colt Hoare's 
account that at the beginning of the last century they 
were distinguishable for a much greater distance than 
at present, but they are still discernible, especially on 
the northern side, for more than 1300 feet from the 
centre of the temple, and particularly the line of the 

bottom of the ditch from which the earth was taken 

/r* c 





AN investigation was undertaken by Mr. Penrose and 
myself in the spring of 1901, as a sequel to analogous 
work in Egypt and Greece, with a view to determine 
whether the orientation theory could throw any light 
upon the date of the foundation of Stonehenge, con- 
cerning which authorities vary in their estimates by 
some thousands of years. Ours was not the first attempt 


to obtain the date of Stonehenge by means of astro- 
nomical considerations. In Mr. Godfrey Higgins' work 2 
he refers to a method of attack connected with pre- 
cession. This furnished him with the date 4000 B.C. 

More recently, Prof. W. M. Flinders Petrie, 3 whose 
plan of the stones is a valuable contribution to the 
study of Stonehenge, was led by his measures of the 
orientation to a date very greatly in the opposite 
direction, but, owing to an error in his application of 
the change of obliquity, clearly a mistaken one. 

The chief astronomical evidence in favour of the 

L This chapter and the end of the previous one are mainly based 
the paper communicated by Mr. Penrose and myself to the Royal 

ety (see Proceedings, Royal Society, vol. 69, p. 137 et seq.}. 

The Celtic Druids. 4 to. London. 1827. 
Stonehenge, &c. 1880. 


solar temple theory lies in the fact that the " avenue," 
as it is called, formed by two ancient earthen banks, 
extends for a considerable distance from the structure, 
in the general direction of the sunrise at the summer 
solstice, precisely in the same way as in Egypt a long 
avenue of sphinxes indicates the principal outlook of a 

These earthen banks defining the avenue do not exist 
alone. As will be seen from the sketch plan (Fig. 15), 
there is a general common line of direction for the avenue 
and the principal axis of the structure ; and the general 
design of the building, together with the position and 
shape of the naos, indicates a close connection of the 
whole temple structure with the direction of the avenue. 
There may have been other pylon and screen equi- 
valents as in other ancient temples, which have dis- 
appeared, the object being to confine the illumination 
to a small part of the naos. There can be little doubt r 
also, that the temple was originally roofed in, and 
that the sun's first ray, suddenly shining into the 
darkness, formed a fundamental part of the cultus. 

With regard to the question of the roof, however, 
the above suggestion, I now find, is not new, the view 
having been held by no less an authority than Dr. 
Thurnham, who apparently was led to it by the repre- 
sentations of the Scandinavian temples as covered and 
enclosed structures. 

Since the actual observation of sunrise was doubtless 
made within the sanctuary itself, we seem justified in 
taking the orientation of the axis to be the same as 
that of the avenue, and since in the present state of 
the S.W. trilithon the direction of the avenue can 



probably be determined with greater accuracy than 
that of the temple axis itself, the estimate of date 
must be based upon the orientation of the avenue. 
Further evidence will be given, however, to show that 
the direction of the axis of the temple, so far as it 
-can now be determined, is sufficiently accordant with 
the direction of the avenue. 

The orientation of this avenue may be examined upon 
the same principles that have been found successful in 
the case of Greek and Egyptian temples that is, on 
the assumption that Stonehenge was a solar temple, and 
that the greatest function took place at sunrise on the 
longest day of the year. This not only had a religious 
motive ; it had also the economic value of marking 
officially and distinctly that time of the year and the 
beginning of an annual period. 

It is, indeed, possible that the present structure may 
have had other capabilities, such as being connected 
with the May year, the equinoxes or the winter solstice ; 
but it is with its uses at the summer solstice alone 
that we now deal. 

There is a difference in treatment between the obser- 
vations required for Stonehenge and those which are 
available for Greek or Egyptian solar temples. In the 
case of the latter, the effect of the precession of the 
equinoxes upon the stars, which as warning clock stars 
were almost invariably connected with those temples, 
offers the best measure of the dates of foundation ; but 
in Britain, owing to the brightness of the dawn at the 
.summer solstice, such a .star could not have been 
employed, so that we can rely only on the secular 
change of the obliquity as affecting the azimuth of the 


point of sunrise. This requires the measurements to be 
taken with very great precision, and as the azimuth 
of the place of sunrise varies with the latitude, and as 
a datum point on the horizon in a known position was 
also required, Colonel Johnston, R.E., the Director- 
General of the Ordnance Survey, was asked for and 
obligingly supplied the following particulars : 

fLat. 51 10' 4 2" 

Centre or stone circle, fetonehenge -I T ,, r , . n , 

(Long. W. 1 49 29 

. a ,. , fLat. 51 3' 52" 

Centre ot spire, bans bury Cathedral -t T n . _ ._ 

[Long. 1 47 45 

The real point was to determine the direction of 
so-called avenue. Measurements taken from the line 
of the bottom of the ditch assisted materially those 
taken from the crown of the bank itself. With this 
help and by using the southern bank and ditch when- 
ever it admitted of recognition, a fair estimate of the 
central line could be arrived at. To verify this, two 
pegs w r ere placed at points 140 feet apart along the 
line near the commencement of the avenue, and four 
others at distances averaging 100 feet apart nearer 
the further recognisable extremity, and their direc- 
tions were measured with the theodolite, independently 
by two observers, the reference point being Salisbury 
Spire, of which the exact bearing had been com- 
municated by Colonel Johnston. 

This bearing was also measured locally by ob- 
servations of the Sun and of Polaris, the mean of 
which differed by less than 20" from the Ordnance 
value. The resulting observations gave for the axis 
of the avenue nearest the commencement an azimuth 
of 49 38' 48", and for that of the more distant part 


49 32' 54". The mean of these two lines drawn from 
the central interval of the great trilithon, already re- 
ferred to, passes between two of the sarsens of the 
exterior circle, which have an opening of about 4 feet, 
within a few inches of their middle point, the devia- 
tion being northwards. This may be considered to 
prove the close coincidence of the original axis of the 
temple with the direction of the avenue. 

This value of the azimuth, the mean of which is 

49 35' 51", is confirmed by the information, also 

Applied from the Ordnance Survey, that from the 

itre of the temple, the bearing to the N.E. of the 
principal bench mark on a hill, about 8 miles distant, 
the bench mark being very near a well-known ancient 
fortified British encampment named Silbury or Sidbury, 
is 49 34' 18"; and that the same line continued through 
Stonehenge, to the south-west, strikes another ancient 
fortification, namely, Grovely Castle, about 6 miles 
distant, and at practically the same azimuth, viz., 49 
35' 51". For the above reasons 49 34' 18" has been 
adopted for the azimuth of the avenue. 

The summer solstice sunrise in 1901 was also watched 
for by Mr. Howard Payn on five successive mornings, 
viz., June 21 to 25, and was successfully observed on 
the last occasion. As soon as the Sun's limb was 
sufficiently above the horizon for its bisection to be 
well measured, it was found to be 8' 40" northwards 
of the peak of the Friar's Heel, which was used as 
the reference point ; the altitude of the horizon being 
35' 48". The azimuth of this peak from the point of 
observation had been previously ascertained to be 50 
39' 5", giving for that of the Sun when measured, 50 


30' 25" ; by calculation that of the Sun, with the 
limb 2' above the horizon, should be 50 30' 54". 
This observation was therefore completely in accordance 
with the results which had been obtained otherwise. 

The time which would elapse between geometrical 
sunrise, that is, with the upper limb tangential with the 
horizon, and that which is here supposed, would be about 
17 seconds, and the difference of azimuth would be 3' 15". 

The remaining point was to find what value should be 
given to the Sun's declination when it appeared showing 
itself 2' above the horizon, the azimuth being 49 34' 18". 

The data obtained for the determination of the 
required epoch were as follows : 

(1.) The elevation of the local horizon at the sunrise 
point seen by a man standing between the uprights of the 
great trilithon (a distance of about 8000 feet) is about 
35' 30", and 2' additional for Sun's upper limb makes 
37' 30". 

(2.) Refraction + parallax, 27' 20". 

(3.) Sun's semi-diameter, allowance being made for 
greater eccentricity than at present, 15' 45". 

(4.) Sun's azimuth, 49 34' 18", and N. latitude, 
.51 10' 42". 

From the above data the Sun's declination works out 
23 54' 30" N., and by Stockwell's tables of the obliquity, 
which are based upon modern determinations of the 
elements of the solar system, 1 the date is found to be 
1680 B.C. 

It is to be understood that on account of the slight 
uncertainty as to the original line of observation and the 

1 Smithsonian Contributions to Knoivledge, vol. xviii. No. 232, 
table 9. Washington. 1873. For curve, see page 130. 

F 2 


very slow rate of change in the obliquity of the ecliptic, 
the date thus derived may possibly be in error by 200 
years more or less ; this gives us a date of construction 
lying between say 1900 and 1500 B.C. 

In this investigation the so-called Friar's Heel was used 
only as a convenient point for reference and verification 
in measurement, and no theory was formed as to its 
purpose. It is placed at some distance, as before 
mentioned, to the south of the axis of the avenue, so that 
at the date arrived at for the erection of the temple the 
Sun must have completely risen before it was vertically 
over the summit of the stone. It may be remarked, 
further, that more than 500 years must yet elapse 
before such a coincidence can take place at the beo-innino- 

-L O O 

of sunrise. 

In an Appendix certain details of the observations are 

In the next chapter I propose to show that an in- 
dependent archaeological inquiry carried out, in a most 
complete and admirable way, just after Mr. Penrose 
and myself had obtained our conclusion, entirely corrobor- 
ates the date at which we had arrived. 



SOON after Mr. Penrose and myself had made our 
astronomical survey of Stonehenge in 1901, some archaeo- 
logical results of the highest importance were obtained 
by Professor Gowland. The operations which secured 
them were designed and carried out in order to re-erect 
the leaning stone which threatened to fall, a piece of work 
recommended to Sir Edmund Antrobus by the Society 
of Antiquaries of London and other learned bodies, and 
conducted at his desire and expense. 

They were necessarily on a large scale, for the great 
monolith, " the leaning stone," is the largest in England, 
the Rudston monolith excepted. It stood behind the 
altar stone, over which it leant at an angle of 65 degrees, 
resting at one point against a small stone of syenite. Half- 
way up it had a fracture one- third across it ; the weight 
of stone above this fracture was a dangerous strain on it, 
so that both powerful machinery and great care and 
precautions had to be used. Professor Gowland was 
charged by the Society of Antiquaries with the conduct 
of the excavations necessary in the work. The engineer- 
ing operations were planned by Mr. Carruthers, and 
Mr. Detmar Blow was responsible for the local super- 

7 o 




FIG. 17. The cradle and supports, looking west. 

intendence. Mr. Blow thus describes the arrangements 
(Journal Institute of British Architects, 3rd series, ix., 
January, 1902) : 


"A strong cradle of 12 -inch square baulks of timber 
was bolted round the stone, with packing and felt, to 
prevent any marking of the stone. To the cradle were 
fixed two 1-inch steel eyebolts to receive the blocks for 
two six-folds of 6 -inch ropes. These were secured and 
wound on to two strong winches fifty feet away, with four 
men at each winch. When the ropes were thoroughly 
tio-ht, the first excavation was made as the stone was 

o ' 

raised on its west side." 

The method employed by Professor Gowland in the 
excavation should be a model for all future work of the 

Above each space to be excavated was placed a frame 
of wood, bearing on its long sides the letters A to H, 
and on its short sides the letters R M L, each letter being 
on a line one foot distant from the next. By this means 
the area to be excavated was divided into squares each 
having the dimension of a square foot. A long rod 
divided into 6-inch spaces, numbered from 1 to 16, was 
also provided for indicating the depth from the datum 
line of anything found. In this way a letter on the long 
sides of the frame, together with one on the short sides, 
and a number on the vertical rod, indicated the position 
of any object found in any part of the excavation. 

Excavations were necessary because to secure the stone 
for the future the whole of the adjacent soil had to be 
removed down to the rock level, so that it could be 
replaced by concrete. 

All results were registered by Professor Gowland in 
relation to a datum line 337 '4 feet above sea level. The 
material was removed in buckets, and carefully sifted 
through a series of sieves 1-inch, J-inch, i-inch, and 



^-inch mesh, in order that the smallest object might 
not be overlooked. 

From the exhaustive account of his work given by 
Professor Gowland to the Society of Antiquaries (Archaeo- 
logia, Iviii.), I gather three results of the highest im- 
portance from the point of view I am considering. These 
were, first, the finding of an enormous number of imple- 
ments ; secondly, the disposition and relative quantities 
of the chippings of the sarsen and blue stones ; and 
thirdly, the discovery of the method by which the stones 
were originally erected. 

I will take the implements first. This, in a con- 
densed form, is what Professor Gowland says about 
them : 

More than a hundred flint implements were found, 
and the greater number occurred in the stratum of chalk 
rubble which either directly overlaid or was on a level 
with the bed rock. They may all be arranged generally 
in the following classes : 

Class /.Axes roughly chipped and of rude forms, 
but having well-defined, more or less sharp cutting edges, 

Class //. Hammerstones, with more or less well- 
chipped, sharp curved edges. Most may be correctly 
termed hammer-axes. They are chipped to an edge at 
one end, but at the other are broad and thick, and in 
many examples terminated there by a more or less flat 
surface. In some the natural coating of the flint is left 
untouched at the thick end. 

Class III. Hammerstones, more or less rounded. 
Some specimens appear to have once had distinct work- 
ing edges, but they are now much blunted and battered 
by use. 


In addition to the above flint implements were found 
about thirty hammerstones, consisting of large pebbles 
or small boulders of the hard quartzite variety of sarsen. 
Some have been roughly broken into convenient forms 
for holding in the hand, whilst a few have been rudely 
trimmed into more regular shapes. They vary in 
weight from about a pound up to six and a half 
pounds. To these we have to add mauls, a more 
remarkable kind of hammerstone than those just 
enumerated. They are ponderous boulders of the quartz- 
ite variety of sarsen with their broadest sides more or 
less flat. Their weights range from about 40 Ib. to 
64 Ib. 

How came these flints and stones where they were 
found ? Prof. Gowland gives an answer which every- 
body will accept/ The implements must be regarded 
as the discarded tools of the builders of Stonehenge, 
dumped down into the holes as they became unfit for 
use, and, in fact, used to pack the monoliths as they 
were erected. We read : " Dealing with the cavity 
occupied by No. 55 before its fall, the mauls were 
found wedged in below the front of its base to act 
together with the large blocks of sarsen as supports " 
(p. 54). Nearly all bear evidence of extremely rough 
usage, their edges being jagged and broken, just as 
we should expect to find after such rough employ- 
ment. We evidently have to deal with builders doing 
their work in the Stone and not in the Bronze age. 
But was the age Palaeolithic or Neolithic ? 

Prof. Gowland writes : 

" Perhaps the most striking features of the flint 
implements is their extreme rudeness, and that there 


is not a single ground or polished specimen among 
them. This, at first sight and without due consider- 
ation, might be taken to indicate an extremely remote 
age. But in this connection it must be borne in mind 


that in the building of such a stupendous structure as 
Stonehenge, the tools required must have been num- 
bered by thousands. The work, too, was of the 
roughest character, and for such only rude tools were 
required. The highly finished and polished implements 
which we are accustomed to consider, and rightly so, 
as characteristic of Neolithic man, would find no place 
in such work. They required too much labour and time 
for their manufacture, and, when made, could not have 
been more effective than the hammer-axes and hammer- 
stones found in the excavations, which could be so 
easily fashioned by merely rudely shaping the natural 
flints, with which the district abounds, by a few well 
directed blows of a sarsen pebble." 

On this ground Prof. Gowland is of opinion that, 
notwithstanding their rudeness, they may be legiti- 
mately ascribed to the Neolithic age, and, it may be, 
near its termination, that is, before the Bronze age, the 

O ' 

commencement of which has been placed at 1400 B.C. 
by Sir John Evans for Britain, though he is inclined 
to think that estimate too low, and 2000 B.C. by 
Montelius for Italy. 

Prof. Gowland guardedly writes : 

' The occurrence of stone tools does not alone prove 
with absolute certainty that Stonehenge belongs to the 
Neolithic age, although it affords a strong presumption 
in favour of that view. But, and this is important, 
had bronze been in general or even moderately exten- 



sive use when the stones were set up, it is in the 
highest degree probable that some implement of that 
metal would have been lost within the area of the 
excavations, and if so lost, it would certainly have 
been found together with the stone tools. Further, the 
employment of deer's horn picks for the extensive ex- 
cavations made in the chalk around the base of the 
monoliths also tends to support the view that bronze 
implements cannot have been in common use. If they 
had it would seem not unreasonable to assume that 
they would have been employed, as they would have 
been so much more effective for such work than the 
picks of deer's horn. 

"Again, the drippings of the stones of Stonehenge in 
two of the Bronze age barrows 1 in its neighbourhood 
show that it is of earlier date than they." 

And finally : 

" In my opinion, the date when copper or bronze 
was first known in Britain is a very remote one, as 
no country in the world presented greater facilities for 
their discovery. The beginning of their application to 
practical uses should, I think, be placed at least as far 
back as 1800 B.C., and that date I am inclined to give, 
until further evidence is forthcoming, as the approximate 
date of the erection of Stonehenge." 

Now the date arrived at by Mr. Penrose and myself 
on astronomical grounds was about 1700 B.C. It is not 
a little remarkable that independent astronomical and 
archaeological inquiries conducted in the same year 

1 Sir Richard Colt Hoare, Ancient History of South Wiltshire, p. 
127. (London, 1812); W. Stukeley, Stonehenge, p. 46. (London, 


.should have come so nearly to the same conclusion. If 
-a general agreement be arrived at regarding it, we have 
a firm basis for the study of other similar ancient 
monuments in this country. 

I have previously in this book referred to the fact 
that the trilithous of the naos and the stones of the 
outer circle are all built up of so-called " sarsen " 
stones. To describe their geological character, I cannot 
do better than quote, from Mr. Cunnington's " Geology 
of Stonehenge," l their origin according to Prestwich. 

" Among the Lower Tertiaries (the Eocene of Sir 
Charles Lyell) are certain sands and mottled clays, 
named by Mr. Prestwich the Woolwich and Reading 
beds, from their being largely developed at these 
places, and from these he proves the sarsens to have 
been derived ; although they are seldom found in situ, 
owing to the destruction of the stratum to which they 
belonged. They are large masses of sand concreted 
together by a siliceous cement, and when the looser 
portions of the stratum were washed away, the blocks 
of sandy rocks were left scattered over the surface of 
the ground. 

" At Standen, near Hungerford, large masses of sarsen 
are found, consisting almost entirely of flints, formed 
into conglomerate with the sand. Flints are also 
common in some of the large stones forming the ancient 
temple of Avebury. 

" The abundance of these remains, especially in some 
of the valleys of North Wilts, is very remarkable. Few 
persons who have not seen them can form an adequate 

1 Wilts Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, xxi. pp. 


idea of the extraordinary scene presented to the eye of 
the spectator, who standing on the brow of one of the 
hills near Clatford, sees stretching for miles before him, 
countless numbers of these enormous stones, occupying 
the middle of the valley, and winding like a mighty 
stream towards the south." 

These stones, then, may be regarded as closely 
associated with the local geology. 

The exact nature of the stones, called " blue stones,' r 
can best be gathered from a valuable "Note" by Prof. 
Judd which accompanies Prof. Gowland's paper. These 
blue stones are entirely unconnected with the local 
geology ; they must, therefore, represent boulders of the 
Glacial drift, or they must have been brought by man,, 
from distant localities. Prof. Judd inclines to the first 

The distinction between these two kinds of stone are 
well shown by Prof. Gowland : 

" The large monoliths of the outer circle, and the 
trilithons of the horse-shoe are all sarsens. [See general 
plan, Fig. 15.] These sarsens in their composition are 
sandstones, consisting of quartz-sand, either fine or 
coarse, occasionally mixed with pebbles and angular 
bits of flint, all more or less firmly cemented together 
with silica. They are the relics of the concretionary 
masses which had become consolidated in the sandstone 
beds that once overlaid the chalk of the district, and had 
resisted the destructive agencies by which the softer 
parts of the beds were removed in geological times. 
They range in structure from a granular rock re- 
sembling loaf sugar in internal appearance to one of 


great compactness similar to and sometimes passing into 

" The monoliths and trilithons all consist of the 
granular rock. The examples of the compact quartzite 
variety, of which many were found in the excavations, 
were almost without exception either hammerstones that 
had been used in shaping and dressing the monoliths, 
or fragments which had been broken from off them in 
these operations. 

" The small monoliths, the so-called ' blue stones/ 
which form the inner circle and the inner horse-shoe, 
are, with the undermentioned exceptions, all of diabase 
more or less porphyritic. Two are porphyrite (formerly 
known as felstone or hornstone). Two are argillaceous 

"Mr. William Cunnington, in his valuable paper, 
' Stonehenge Notes,' records the discovery of two stumps 
of ' blue stones ' now covered by the turf. One of these 
lies in the inner horseshoe between Nos. 61 and 62, 
and 9 feet distant from the latter. It is diabase. The 
other is in the inner circle between Nos. 32 and 33, 
10 feet from the former, and consists of a soft calcareous 
altered tuff, afterwards designated for the sake of brevity 
fissile rock. 

" The altar stone is of micaceous sandstone." 

I now come to the second point, to which I shall 
return in the next chapter. 

In studying the material obtained from the excava- 
tions, it was found in almost every case that the 
number of chippings and fragments of blue stone largely 
exceeded that of the sarsens ; more than this, diabase 





(blue stone) and sarsen were found together in the layer 
overlying the solid chalk (p. 15). drippings of diabase 
were the most abundant, but there were few large 
pieces of it. Sarsen, on the other hand, occurred most 
abundantly in lumps (p. 20) ; very few small chips of 

FIG. 20. Showing the careful tooling of the Sarsens. 

sarsen were found (p. 42). Hence Prof. Gowland is of 
opinion that the sarsen blocks were roughly hewn where 
they were found (p. 40) ; the local tooling, executed 
with the small quartzite hammers and mauls, would 
produce not chips but dust. 


Finally, I reach the third point of importance from 
the present standpoint ; the excavations produced clear 
evidence touching the mode of erection. Prof. Gowland's 
memoir deals only with the leaning stone, but I take 





CWLK flOC/f 



FIG. 21. Face of rock against which a stone was made to rest. 

it for granted that the same method was employed 
'throughout : the method was this. 

(l) The ground in the site a stone was to occupy was 
removed, the chalk rock being cut into in such a manner 
as to leave a ledge, on which the base of the stone 
was to rest, and a perpendicular face rising from it, 
against which as a buttress one side would bear when 
set up. From the bottom of this hole an inclined plane 
was cut to the surface down which the monolith which 

G 2 


had already been dressed was slid until its base rested 
on the ledge. 

(2) It was then gradually raised into a vertical posi- 
tion by means first of levers and afterwards of ropes. 
The levers would be long trunks of trees, to one end 
of which a number of ropes was attached (this method 
is still employed in Japan) ; so that the weights and 
pulling force of many men might be exerted on them. 
The stronger ropes were probably of hide or hair, but 
others of straw, or of withes of hazel or willow, may 
have been in use for minor purposes. 

(3) As the stone was raised, it was packed up with 
logs of timber and probably also with blocks of stone 
placed beneath it. 

(4) After its upper end had reached a certain eleva- 
tion, ropes were attached to it, and it was then hauled 
by numerous men into a vertical position, so that its 
back rested against the perpendicular face of the chalk 
which had been prepared for it. During this part 
of the operation, struts of timber would probably be 
placed against its sides to guard against slip, a pre- 
caution taken when the leaning stone 'was raised and 
until the foundation was properly set. 

As regards the raising of the lintels, and imposts, 
and the placing of them on the tops of the uprights, 
there would be even less difficulty than in the erection 
of the uprights themselves. 

It could be easily effected by the simple method 
practised in Japan for placing heavy blocks of stone in 
position. The stone, when lying on the ground, would 
be raised a little at one end by means of long wooden 
levers. A packing of logs would then be placed under 


FIG. '22. The leaning stone upright before the struts were removed. 

the end so raised, the other extremity of the stone 
would be similarly raised and packed, and the raising 
and packing at alternate ends would be continued 





until the block had gradually reached the height of 
the uprights. It would then be simply pushed forward 
by levers until it rested upon them. 

It is not often that an engineering operation has 
been made so subservient to the interests of science 
as the one we have dealt with in this chapter. It is 
satisfactory to know not only that much new know- 
ledge has been acquired by Professor Gowland and his 
coadjutors, but that the famous leaning stone has now 
been set upright in such fashion that it will remain 
upright for hundreds of years. May the other leaning- 
stones soon receive the same treatment. 



WHEN we come to examine Stonehenge carefully in 
relation to the orientation theory, it soon becomes clear 
that its outer circle of upright stones with lintels, and 
the inner naos, built of trilithons, oriented in the line 
of the " avenue " and the summer solstice sunrise, are 
not the only things to be considered. These stones, 
all composed of sarsen, which, be it remarked, have 
been trimmed and tooled, are not alone in question. 
We have*: 

(1) An interior circle broken in many places, and 
other stones near the naos, composed of stones, " blue 
stones," which, as we have seen, are of an entirely 
different origin and composition. 

(2) Two smaller untrimmed sarsen stones lying near 
the vallum, not at the same distance from it, the line 
joining them passing nearly, but not quite, through 
the centre of the sarsen circle. The amplitude of the 
line joining them is approximately 26 S. of E. and 
26 N. of W. Of these stones, the stump of the N.W. 
one is situated 22 feet from the top of the vallum 
according to the Ordnance plan. The S.E. stone has 
fallen, but according to careful observations and 



measurements by Mr. Penrose, when erect its centre was 
14 feet from the top of the vallum. The centre of the 

FIG. 24. Map of the Stones made by the Ordnance Survey. 1 A, N.W. stone; 
B, S.E. stone; c, Friar's Heel; D, Slaughter stone. 

line joining the stones is therefore about 4 feet to the 
S.E. of the axis of the present circles, which, it may be 

1 Plans and photographs of Stonehenge, &c., by Colonel Sir Henry 
James, R.E., F.R.S., Director-General of the Ordnance Survey, 1867. 


stated, passes 3 feet to the N.W. of the N.W. edge 
of the Friar's Heel (see Fig. 24). 

There are besides these two large untrimmed sarsen 
stones, one standing some distance outside the vallum, 
one recumbent lying on the vallum; both nearly, but 
not quite, in the sunrise line as viewed from the centre 
of the sarsen circle. These are termed the " Friar's- 
Heel " and " Slaughter Stone " respectively. 

I will deal with (l) first, and begin by another 
quotation from Mr. Cunnington, who displayed great 
acumen in dealing with the smaller stones not sarsens. 

" The most important consideration connected with 
the smaller stones, and one which in its archaeological 
bearing has been too much overlooked, is the fact of 
their having been brought from a great distance. I 
expressed an opinion on this subject in a lecture 
delivered at Devizes more than eighteen years ago, and 
I have been increasingly impressed with it since. I 
believe thafc these stones would not have been brought 
from such a distance to a spot where an abundance of 
building stones equally suitable in every respect already 
existed, unless some special or religious value had been 
attached to them. This goes far to prove that Stone- 
henge was originally a temple, and neither a monu- 
ment raised to the memory of the dead, nor an astro- 
nomical calendar or almanac. 

" It has been suggested that they were Danams, or 
the offerings of successive votaries. Would there in 
such case have been such uniformity of design, or would 
they have been all alike of foreign materials ? I would 
make one remark about the small impost of a trilithon 
of syenite, now lying prostrate within the circle. One 


writer has followed another in taking it for granted 
that there must have been a second, corresponding with 
it, on the opposite side. Of this there is neither proof 
nor record, not a trace of one having been seen by any 
person who has written on the subject. This small 
impost, not being of sarsen, but syenite, must have 
belonged to the original old circle ; it may even have 
suggested to the builders of the present Stonehenge the 
idea of the large imposts, and trilithons with their 
tenons and mortices." 

In Prof. Gowland's examination of the contents of 
the holes necessarily dug in his operations, it was found 
over and over again, indeed almost universally, that the 
quantity of blue stone chippings was much greater than 
that from the sarsen stones. While the sarsen stones 
had only been worked or tooled on their surface, the 
blue stones had been hewed and trimmed in extra- 
ordinary fashion ; indeed it is stated by Prof. Judd 
that they had been reduced to half their original 
dimensions in this process, the chippings almost equal- 
ling the volume of the stones themselves. 

It seems, then, that when the sarsen stones were set 
up, the sarsen and blue stones were treated very differ- 
ently. This being so, the following quotation from 
Prof. Judd's "Note" is interesting (Archaeologia, Iviii.. 
p. 81):- 

" I may repeat my conviction that if the prevalent 
beliefs and traditions concerning Stonehenge were true, 
and the " bluestone " circles were transported from some 
distant locality, either as trophies of war or as the 
sacred treasures of a wandering tribe, it is quite in- 
conceivable that they should have been hewed and 


chipped, as we now know them to have been, and re- 
duced in some cases to half their dimensions, after having 
been carried with enormous difficulty over land and 
ivater, and over hills and valleys. On the other hand, in 
the glacial drift, which once probably thinly covered 
the -district, the glacial deposits dying out very gradu- 
.ally as we proceed southwards, we have a source from 
which such stones might probably have been derived. 
It is quite a well-known peculiarity of the glacial drift 
to exhibit considerable assemblages of stones of a par- 
ticular character at certain spots, each of these assem- 
blages having probably been derived from the same 

"I would therefore suggest as probable that when 
the early inhabitants of this island commenced the 
erection of Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain was sprinkled 
over thickly with the great white masses of the sarsen- 
stones ('grey wethers'), and much more sparingly 
with darker coloured boulders (the so-called ' blue- 
stones '), the last relics of the glacial drift, which have 
been nearly denuded away. From these two kinds of 
materials the stones suitable for the contemplated 
temple were selected. It is even possible that the abun- 
.dance and association of these two kinds of materials 
so strikingly contrasted in colour and appearance, at a 
particular spot, may not only have decided the site, 
but to some extent have suggested the architectural 
features of the noble structure of Stonehensre." 


If we grant everything that Prof. Judd states, the 
question remains why did the same men in the same 
place at the same time treat the sarsen and blue 
stones so differently ? 


I shall show subsequently that there is a definite 
answer to the question on one assumption. 

I next come to (2). The important point about these 
stones is that with the amplitude 26, at Stonehenge, 
a line from the centre of the circle over the N.W. 
stone would mark the sunset place in the first week in 
May, and a line over the S.E. stone would similarly 
deal with the November sunrise. We are thus brought 


in presence of the May-November year. 

Another point about these stones is that they are not 
at the same distance from the centre of the sarsen 
stone circle, which itself is concentric with the temenos 
mound ; this is why they lie at different distances from 
the mound. Further, a line drawn from the point of 
the Friar's Heel over the now recumbent Slaughter 
Stone with the amplitude determined by Mr. Penrose 
and myself for the summer solstice sunrise in 1680 
B.C. cuts the line joining the stones at the middle point, 
suggesting that the four untrimmed sarsen stones pro- 
vided alignments both for the May and June years 
at about that date. 

Nor is this all ; the so-called tumuli within the 
vallum (Fig. 10) may have been observation mounds, 
for the lines passing from the northern tumulus over 
the N.W. stone and from the southern tumulus over 
the S.E. one are parallel to the avenue, and therefore 
represent the solstitial orientation. 

So much, then, for the stones. We see that, deal- 
ing only with the untrimmed sarsens that remain, the 
places of the May sunset and June and November sun- 
rises were marked from the same central point. 

Statements have been made that there was the stump 




of another stone near the vallum to the S.W., in the 
line of the Friar's Heel and Slaughter Stone, produced 
backwards, at the same distance from the old centre 
as the N.W. and S.E. stones. This stone was not 
found in an exploration by Sir Edmund Antrobus, Mr. 

Fig. 25. The rod on the recumbent stone is placed in and along the common axis 
of the present circle and avenue. It is seen that the Friar's Heel, the top of 
which is shown in the distance, would hide the sunrise place if the axis were 
a little further to the S.E. 

Penrose and Mr. Howard Payn by means of a sword 
and an auger. But the question will not be settled 
until surface digging is permitted, as a "road" about 
which there is a present contention passes near the 

But even this is not the only evidence we have for 


the May worship in early times. There is an old 
tradition of the slaughter of Britons by the Saxons 
at Stonehenge, known as " The Treachery of the Long 
Knives " ; according to some accounts, 460 British 
chieftains were killed while attending a banquet and 
conference. Now at what time of the year did this 
take place ? Was it at the summer solstice on June 
21? I have gathered from Guest's " Mabinogion," vol. 
ii. p. 433, and Davies's " Mythology of the British 
Druids," p. 333, that the banquet took place on May 
eve " Meinvethydd." Is it likely that this date would 
have been chosen in a solar temple dedicated exclu- 
sively to the solstice ? 

Now the theory to which my work and thought have 
led me is that the megalithic structures at Stonehenge 
the worked sarsens with their mortices and lintels, 
and above all the trilithons of the magnificent naos 
represent a re-dedication and a reconstruction, on a 
more imposing plan and scale, of a much older temple, 
which was originally used for worship in connection with 
the May year. 



I PURPOSE next to inquire whether in the wonderful 
series of Megalithic remains in Brittany, remains more 
extensive than any in Britain, any light is thrown on the 
suggestion I have made that the May Worship preceded 
the Solstitial Worship at Stonehenge. 

It has long been known that the stones which compose 
the prehistoric remains in Brittany are generally similar 
in size and shape to those at Stonehenge, but, as I have 
already stated, in one respect there is a vast difference. 
Instead of a few, arranged in circles as at Stonehenge, we 
have an enormous multitude of the so-called menhirs 
arranged in many parallel lines for great distances. Some 
of these are unhewn like the Friar's Heel, some have as 
certainly been trimmed. 

The literature which has been devoted to them is very 
considerable, but the authors of it, for the most part, have 
taken little or no pains to master the few elementary 
astronomical principles which are necessary to regard the 
monuments from the point of view of orientation. 

It is consoling to know that this cannot be said of the 
last published contribution to our knowledge of this 
region, which we owe to Monsieur F. Gaillard, a member 


of the Paris Anthropological Society and of the Poly- 
mathic Society of Morbihan at Plouharnel. 1 

M. Gaillard is a firm believer in the orientation theory, 
and accepts the view that a very considerable number of 
the alignments are solstitial. But although he gives the 
correct azimuths for the solstitial points and also figures 
showing the values of the obliquity of the ecliptic as far 
as 2200 B.C., his observations are not sufficiently precise 
'to enable a final conclusion to be drawn, and his method 
of fixing the alignments and the selection of the index 
menhir are difficult to gather from his memoir and the 
small plans which accompany it, which, alas ! deal with 
compass bearings only. 

All the same, those interested in such researches owe a 
debt of gratitude to M. Gaillard for his laborious efforts to 
increase our knowledge, and will sympathise with him at 
the manner in which his conclusions were treated by the 
Paris anthropologists. One of them, apparently thinking 
that the place of sun rising is affected by the precession 
of the equinoxes, used this convincing argument : " Si, a 
1'origine les alignments etaient orientes, comme le pense 
M. Gaillard, ils ne le pourraient plus etre aujourdhui ; au 
contraire, s'ils le sont actuellement, on peut affirmer qu'ils 
ne 1'etaient pas alors ! " 

M. Gaillard is not only convinced of the solstitial 
orientation of the avenues, but finds the same result in 
the case of the dolmens. 

I cannot find any reference in the text to any orienta- 
tions dealing with the farmers' years, that is with ampli- 

1 " L'Astrcnomie Prehistorique." Published in "Les Sciences Popu- 
laires, revue mensuelle internationale," and issued separately by the 
administration des "Sciences populaires," 15 Rue Lebrun, Paris. 



tudes of about 25 N. and S. of the E. and W. points ; but 
in the diagrams on pp. 78 and 127 I find both avenue 
and dolmen alignments, which within t\e limits of 
accuracy apparently employed may perhaps with justice 
be referred to them ; but observations of greater accuracy 
must be made, and details of the heights of the horizon 
at the various points given, before anything certain can 
be said about them. 

I append a reproduction of one of M. Gaillard's plans, 
which will give an idea of his use of the index menhir. It 
shows the alignments at Le Menec, lat. 47^ (Fig. 26). 
The line A Soleil runs across the stone alignments and 
is fixed from A by the menhir B, but there does not seem 
any good reason for selecting B except that it appears to 
fall in the line of the solstitial azimuth according to M. 
Gaillard. But if we take this azimuth as N. 54 E., then 
we find the alignments to have an azimuth roughly of N. 
66 E., w r hich gives us the amplitude of 24 N. marking 
the place of sunrise at the beginning of the May and 
November years, and the alignments may have dealt 
principally with those times of the year. 

I esteem it a most fortunate thing that while I have 
been casting about as to the best way of getting more 
accurate data, Lieutenant Devoir, of the French Navy 
and therefore fully equipped with all the astronomical 
knowledge necessary ; who resides at Brest and has been 
studying the prehistoric monuments in his neighbourhood 
for many years, has been good enough to give me the 
results of his work in that region, in which the problems 
seem to be simpler than further south ; for while in the 
vicinity of Carnac the menhirs were erected in groups 
numbering five or six thousand, near Brest, lat, 48J , they 


are much more restricted in number. I am much indebted 
to him for permission to use and publish his results. 

Lieutenant Devoir, by his many well-planned and 

'^ CB l /2 rT '. m pour metre. 

FIG.' 26. Alignments at Le Menec. 

approximately accurate observations, has put the solstitial 
orientation beyond question, and, further, has made im- 
portant observations which prove that the May and 
August sunrises were also provided for in the systems of 


H. _; 



I give the following extracts from his 

letter : 

" It is about twelve years ago that I remarked in the 
west part of the Department of Morbihan (near Lorient) 
the parallelism of the lines marked out by monuments of 
all sorts, and frequently oriented to the N.E., or rather 

FIG. 27. Menhir (A) on Melon Island. 

between K 50 E. and N. 55 E. I had ascertained, 
moreover, the existence of lines perpendicular to the first 
named, the right angle being very well measured. 

"The plans, which refer to the cantons of Ploudal- 
mezeau and of St. Renan (district of Brest) and of Crozon 
(district of Chateaulin), have been made on a plane-table ; 
the orientations are exact to one or two degrees. 

" In the cantons of Ploudalmezeau and of St. Renan, 


the monuments are generally simple ; seven menhirs are 
visible of enormous dimensions, remarkable by the 
polish of their surface and the regularity of their 
section. The roughnesses hardly ever reach a centi- 
metre ; the sections are more often ovals, sometimes 
rectangles with the angles rounded or terminated by 
semicircles. In the canton of Crozon the monuments 
are, on the contrary, complex ; we find a cromlech with 

FIG. 28. Melon Island, showing Menhir (A) and Cromlech (B and C). 

an avenue leading to it of a length of 800 metres, 
another of 300 metres. Unfortunately, the rocks em- 
ployed (sandstone and schist from Plungastel and 
Crozon) have resisted less well than the granulite from 
the north part of the Department. The monuments 
are for the most part in a very bad condition ; the 
whole must, nevertheless, formerly have been comparable 
with that of Carnac-Leomariaquer. 

" For the two regions, granitic and schistose, the 
results of the observations are identical. 

" The monuments lie along lines oriented S. 54 W. 


-> N. 54 E. (54 = azimuth at the solstices for L = 
48 30' and t - 23 30') and N. 54 W. -> S. 54 E. 
Some of them determine lines perpendicular to the 

" One menhir (A), 6m. 90 in height and 9m. 20 in 
circumference, erected in the small island of Melon 

FIG. 29. Menhirs of St. Dourzal, D, E, F. 

(canton of Ploudalmezeau, latitude 48 29' 05") a few 
metres from a tumulus surrounded by the ruins of a 
cromlech (B and C), has the section such that the faces, 
parallel and remarkably plane, are oriented N. 54 E. 
(Figs. 27 and 28). 

"At 1300 metres in the same azimuth there is a line 
of three large menhirs (D, E, F), of which one (E) is 
overthrown. The direction of the line passes exactly 


by the menhir A. Prolonged towards the N.E. it 
meets at 3k. 700m. an overturned block of 2m. 50 in 
height, which is without doubt a menhir ; towards 

o ' 

the S.W. it passes a little to the south some lines of 
the island of Molene. . . . (Fig. 29). 

"There exists in the neighbourhood other groups, 
forming also lines of the same orientation and that of 

FIG. 30. Alignment at Lagatjar, G G'. 

the winter solstice. It is advisable to remark that 
orientations well determined for the solstices are much 
less so for the equinoxes, which is natural, the rising- 
amplitude varying very rapidly at this time of year. 

" The same general dispositions are to be found in 
the complex monuments of the peninsula of Crozon. 
I take for example the alignments of Lagatjar. Two 
parallel lines of menhirs, G G' H H', are oriented to S. 
54 E. and cut perpendicularly by a third line, 1 1'. 
There existed less than fifty years ago a menhir at K, 




6 metres high, which is to-day broken and overturned. 
This megalith, known in the country by the name of 
' pierre du Conseil ' (a bronze axe was found underneath 
it) gives with a dolmen situated near Camaret the direc- 
tion of the sunrise on June 21 (Fig. 31). 

"I have just spoken of the lines perpendicular to 
the solstitial one ; there exists more especially in the 
complex monuments another particularity which merits 



K " pierre du. Conseil 

FIG. 31. Alignments at Lagatjar, showing the pierre du Conseil and the direction 
of the dolmen. From the pierre du Conseil the dolmen marks the sunrise 
place at the summer solstice, and the avenue G G' H H' the sunset place 
on the same day. 

attention. Between two monuments, M and N, on a 
solstitial line, sometimes other menhirs are noticed, the 
line joining them being inclined 12 to the solstitial 
line, always towards the east" (Fig 32). 

I must call particular attention to this important 
observation of Lieutenant Devoir, for it gives us the 
amplitude 24 N., the direction of sunrise at the begin- 
ning of the May and August years. It shows, moreover, 
that, as at Le Menec according to M. Gaillard, the 
solstitial and May- August directions were both provided 


for at the monuments in the neighbourhood of Brest so 
carefully studied by Lieutenant Devoir. 

Lieutenant Devoir points out the wonderful regularity 
of form and the fine polish of many of the menhirs. It 
will have been gathered from his account that those most 
carefully trimmed and tooled belong to the solstitial 
alignments. The one at Kerloas (11 metres high) heads 

W -- 


FIG. 32. Menhirs, M N on N.E.-S.W. solstitial alignment. Menhirs 1, '2, on 
May-August years alignment, sunrise May-August, sunset November-February. 

the list in point of size ; others in the island of Melon 
(7 metres), at Kergadion (8 metres and 10 metres), 
Kerenrieur, Kervaon and Kermabion follow suit. He 
considers them to have been erected at the time of the 
highest civilisation of the Megalithic peoples. He also 
states that these regularly formed menhirs do not exist 
at Carnac, or in the region of Pont 1'Abbe, so rich in 
other remains which certainly refer chiefly to the May- 
November year. It seems, then, that in these localities 


the May-August worship first chiefly predominated, and 
that the index menhirs of M. Gaillard which indicate 
the solstice and which do not form part of the align- 
ments were erected subsequently. 

Finally, then, the appeal to Brittany is entirely in 
favour of the May-November year worship having 
preceded the solstitial one. 

I have already stated the evidence at Stonehenge 
that the sunrise at the beginning of the May and 
August years was observed in an earlier temple which 
existed before the present structure existed. Were this 
so we have another point common to the British and 
Breton monuments. I therefore think that I may justly 
claim the Brittany evidence as entirely in favour of the 
suggestion put forward in Chap. IX with regard to Stone- 



THE foregoing chapters will have shown that in dealing 
with the ancient monuments from an astronomical point 
of view, we have to consider chiefly the direction of the 
sight-lines, whether they are marked as in Brittany by 
long rows of stones alignments ; as at Stonehenge by an 
avenue ; as in some of our British circles, by two or more 
circles the direction being indicated from the central stone 
of one to the central stone of the other, or finally by a 
single standing stone or barrow. 

It is important then that before we proceed further in 
our inquiries we should consider how a meaning is got out 
of these directions, and I propose to devote this chapter 
to this question, so that the full use of the " azimuths " 
already referred to and others which are to follow may be 
fully understood. 

There is another matter, at which I hinted on pp. 36 
and 42. We have to inquire whether there are any stones 
or barrows marking the direction of the rising or setting of 
stars, as well as those which deal with the rising and set- 
ting of the sun at different times of the year, which we 
have already found at Stonehenge and in Brittany. To 
face this question we have to consider the stellar as well as 


solar conditions of observations, and as the former are 
the simpler I will begin with them, especially as now there 
is no question whatever that the rising and setting of stars 
were provided for. 

In continuation of my work in Egypt in 1891, and 
Mr. Penrose's in Greece in 1892, I have recently 
endeavoured to see whether there are any traces in Britain 
of star observations, including those connected w T ith the 
worship of the sun at certain times of the year. We 
both discovered that stars, far out of the sun's course, 
especially in Egypt, were observed in the dawn as heralds 
of sunrise "warning-stars" so that the priests might 
have time to prepare the sunrise sacrifice. To do this 
properly the star should rise while the sun is still about 
1 below the horizon. There is also reason to believe that 
stars rising not far from the north point were also used as 
clock-stars to enable the time to be estimated during the 
night in the same way as the time during the day could 
be estimated by the position of the sun. 

I stated (Dawn of Astronomy, p. 319) that Spica was 
the star the heliacal rising of which heralded the sun on 
May-day 3200 B.C. in the temple of Menu at Thebes. 
Sirius was associated with the summer solstice at about 
the same time. 

Mr. Penrose found this May-day worship continued at 
Athens on foundations built in 1495 B.C. and 2020 B.C., on 
which the Hecatompedon and older Erechtheum respectively 
were subsequently built, the warning star being now no 
longer Spica, but the cluster of the Pleiades rising, or 
Antares setting, in the dawn. 

It is generally known that Stonehenge is associated with 
the solstitial year, and I have suggested that it was 


originally connected with the May year ; but the probable 
date of its re-dedication, 1680 B.C., was determined by 
Mr. Penrose and myself by the change of obliquity. 

Now if Stonehenge or any other British stone circle 
could be proved to have used observations of warning- 
stars, the determination of the date when such observa- 
tions were made would be enormously facilitated. Mr. 
Penrose and myself were content to think that our 
date might be within 200 years of the truth, whereas 
if we could use the rapid movement of stars in declina- 
tion brought about by the precession of the equinoxes, 
instead of the slow change of the sun's declination 
brought about by the change of the value of the 

/ O 

obliquity, a possible error of 200 years would be reduced 
to one of 10 years. 

In spite of this enormous advantage, no one so far 
as I know has yet made any inquiry to connect star 
observations with any of the British circles. 

I have recently obtained clear evidence that some 
circles in different parts of Britain were used for night 
work ancl also in relation to the May year, which 
we know was general over the whole of Europe in 
early times, -and which still determines the quarter-days 
in Scotland. 

If the Egyptian and Greek practice were continued 
here, we should expect then to find some indications of the 
star observations utilised at the temple of Min and at 
the Hecatompedon for the beginning, or the other chief 
months, of the May year. 

I have found them, and I will now show the method 

To begin with, if we assuil ^ that the astronomer- 


priests here did attempt such observations, what is 
the most likely way in which they would have gone 
to work ? 

The easiest way for the astronomer-priests to conduct 
such observations in a stone circle would be to erect 
a stone or barrow indicating the direction of the place on 
the horizon at which the star would rise as seen from the 
centre of the circle. If the dawn the star was to 
herald occurred in the summer, the stone or barrow itself 
might be visible if not too far away, but there was a 
reason why they should not be too close ; in a solemn 
ceremonial the less seen of the machinery the better. 

Doubtless such stones and barrows would be rendered 
obvious in the dark by a light placed on or near them. 
Cups which could hold oil or grease are known in 
connection with such stones, and a light thus fed would 
suffice in the open if there were no wind ; but in windy 
weather a cromlech or some similar shelter must have 
been provided for it. 

Now if these standing stones or barrows were ever 
erected and still remain, accurate plans not the slovenly 
plans with which Ferguson and too many others have pro- 
vided us, giving us either no indication of the north or any 
other point, or else a rough compass bearing without 
taking the trouble to state the variation at the time and 
place will help us. 

I have already pointed out that much time has been lost 
in the investigation of our stone circles, for the reason 
that in many cases the exact relations of the monuments 
to the chief points of the horizon, and therefore to the 
place of sunrise at different times of the year, have not 
been considered; and vhen they were, the observations 


were made only with reference to the magnetic north, 
which is different at different places, and besides is always 
varying ; few indeed have tried to get at the real 
astronomical conditions of the problem. The first, I think, 
was Mr. Jonathan Otley, who in 1849 showed the 
"orientation" of the Keswick circle "according to the 
solar meridian," giving true solar bearings throughout the 

In my opinion the most accurate plans conceivable, 
in the absence of a long and minute local inquiry, are the 
2 5 -inch maps of the Ordnance Survey, on which, I have 
it on the authority of Colonel Johnston the distinguished 
Director, each stone may be taken to be shown with a 
limit of error of 6 feet. With a large circular protractor 
azimuths can be read to one minute of arc, and in critical 
cases the true azimuth of the side lines, which are not 
necessarily meridians as latitudes are not marked, can be 
found on inquiry at the Ordnance Office, Southampton. 

Having then true azimuths, the next question concerns 
the declinations of the stars which may have been 

The work of Stockwell in America, Danckworth in 
Germany, 1 and Dr. W. J. S. Lockyer in England, has 
provided us with tables of the changing declinations 
of stars throughout past time, or enough of it for our 

An accurate determination on the 25-inch map of either 
the azimuth (angular distance from the N. or S. points) 
or amplitude (angular distance from the E. or W. points) 

1 Dr. O. Danckworth, Vierteljahrschrift der Astronomiscken Gesell- 
schaft, 16 Jahrgang 1881, p. 9. Dr. Stockwell's results have been 
communicated to me by letter. Some, but not all, of Dr. Lockyer's 
calculations appeared in The Dawn of Astronomy. 


of the stone or barrow as seen from the centre of the stone 
circle will enable us to determine the declination of the 
star at the time when it was observed. 

I give a diagram which enables this determination 

o o 

to be made with the greatest ease for any monuments 
between Land's End and John o' Groats, whether the 
direction is recorded by amplitude or azimuth ; the 
declination is read at the side from the value of either 
indicated, say, by a dot, at the proper latitude. 

This, of course, only gives us a first approximation. 
The angular height of the point on the horizon to which the 
alignment or sight-line is directed by the stone or barrow 
from the centre of the circle must be most accurately 
determined, otherwise the declinations may be one or two 
degrees out. 

In the absence of measurements it is convenient to 
assume, in the first instance, that the horizon is half a 
degree high, as with this elevation refraction is 
compensated, as the following table will show : 

Elevation of actual Bessel's 

horizon. refraction. Combined effect. 

00'0" 34'54" - 34'54" 

010' 32'49" -22'49" 

20' 30'52" - 10'52" 

30' 29'3'5" +0'56'5" 

40' 27'22-7" + 12'37'3" 

50' 25'49-8" +2410-2" 

10' 24'24-6" +35'35'4" 

In the absence of theodolite observations the actual 
elevation of the horizon can be roughly found by a study of 
the contour lines on the 1-inch map. The following heights 
will agree with the previous assumption of hills |- high : 

Distance 1 mile Height = 46 feet 

,, 2 miles = 92 

8 ,, =368 

10 =460 




I also give other diagrams showing the changing declina- 
tions of the brightest stars, those which would naturally 
be observed, between the years 150 A.D. and 2150 B.C. 
These have been plotted from the calculations of the 
authorities I have named. 

Fig. 34 deals with the Northern stars. The stars are 
numbered as follows : 

Number. Name of star. 

1 Ursae Minoris. 

2 o Ursae Minoris (Polaris). 

3 o Draconis. 

4 o Ursae Majoris (Dubhe). 

5 y Ursae Majoris. 

6 77 Ursae Majoris (Benetnasch). 

7 7 Draconis. 

8 /} Cassiopeiae. 

9 a Cassiopeiae. 

10 a Persei. 

11 o Aurigae (Capella). 

12 a Cygni. 

13 o Lyrae (Vega). 

Number. Name of star. 

14 o Coronae. 

15 o Geminorum (Castor). 

16 & Geminorum (Pollux). 

17 a Bootes (Arcturus). 

18 Leonis. 

19 a Leonis (Regulus). 

20 a Andromedae. 

21 TJ Tauri (Alcyone). 

22 o Tauri (Aldebaran). 

23 o Canis Minoris (Procyon) 

24 o Aquilae. 

25 a Orionis (Betelgeuse). 

26 a Virginis (Spica). 

On Fig. 35, dealing with the Southern stars, the names 
are given along the curves. 

Now supposing that we have our plans ; that we 
have determined the azimuth of the sight lines ; and 
have found the declination of the star observed ; we may 
find more than one star occupying that declination at 
various dates. 

Which of these stars, then, must w r e consider? 

Obviously those most conveniently situated for enabling 
the time to be estimated during the night, or those which 
could have been used as warning stars. 

The warning stars can be conveniently picked up by 
using a precessional globe. From it we gather that about 
1900, 1400 and 800 B.C. they were as follows for the critical 




80- -2 


2OQQ. : 

FIG. 34. Declinations of Northern Stars from 250 A.D. to 2150 B.C. 

I '2 




' i 1 i,fi T B U I I , I t ' ! I I ' ! ! t I I 

560 1000 1560 2.000 

FIG. 35. Declinations of Southern Stars from 250 A.D. to 2150 B.C. 

a Ceti, a Aquarii, j8 Orionis, a Capricorni, a Canis Majoris, a Scorpii, 
a Columbse, o Pisces Austr., TJ Argus, a Centauri, a Argils. 
a Crucis, a Gruis, and a Eridani. 


times of the May year, i.e. May, August, November, 
February : 

1900 B.C. 1400 B.C. 800 B.C. 

May .... Castor rising . . . N. 41 E. Pleiades rising N 77 E. Pleiades 

Antares . rising. . N. 71 C E. 

Antares setting . . . S. 75 W. setting S. 72 W. 

August . . . Arcturus circumpolar. Arcturus Sirius 

With hill 3 high : rising . N. 17 E. rising . . S. C3 E. 


Date 2170 B.C. . . N. 1115' E. 
2090 B.C. . . N. 1418' E. 
,, 1900 B.C. . . N. 1S44' E. 

November Betelgeuse 

setting . N. 87 W. 

February . . Capella rising ... N. 36 E. Capella . N. 28 E. Capella . . N. 21 E. 

rising rising 

For the solstices, that is, June and December, the 
following stars might be used as warners : 

1900 B.C. 1400 B.C. 800 B.C. 

Summer Solstice. Betelgeuse rising. . N. 87 E. Betelgeuse y Geminorum 

rising . N. 90 E. rising . . N. 68 E. 

Arcturus setting . N. 18 W. Arcturus setting ("Alhena" mag. 1'9.) 

with hill 3 high (late) . N. 16 W. 

a Serpentis 

setting N. 53 W. 
Winter Solstice . Sheat rising (early) . N. 72 E. Castor a Capricorn! 

setting N. 37 W. rising . . S. 66 E. 

Markab ,, (late) . S. 89 E. Pollux 

setting N. 42 W. 

It is obvious that a star used all the year round for 
night work will warn the sunrise at some one of the yearly 

When the stars having the same declinations are con- 
sidered from this point of view, the star actually used, 
and therefore the date of its use, may* generally be 
gathered. I shall show subsequently that some of the 
stars in the above lists were actually observed in British 
as well as in Grecian temples. 



I NEXT come to the sun observations. 

First we must consider the astronomical differences 
between the rising of a star and of the sun, by 
which we generally mean that small part of the sun's 
limb first visible. 

It is frequently imagined that for determining the 
exact place of sunrise or sunset in connection with 
these ancient monuments we have to deal with the 
sun's centre, as we should do with the sun half risen. 
As a matter of fact, we must consider that part of 
the sun's limb which first makes its appearance above 
the horizon ; the first glimpse of the upper limb of the 
sun is in question, say, when the visible limb is 2' 
high ; and we must carefully take the height of the hills 
over which it rises into account. 

The accompanying diagram will at once show the 
difference between the rising conditions we have now 
to consider. It deals with the summer solstice, as 
being the most precise case, in Lat. 59 N. 

At this time the position of the sun, that is of the 
sun's centre, as given in the " Nautical Almanac," is 
represented by the double circle on the sea horizon. 




\ \ 

)\ ) 






The azimuth of this position is N. 39 16' E. This 
is the equivalent of the declination of a star, but it 
will be seen that the real azimuths we want are 
very different. The dotted circles represent the actual 
position of the sun with regard to the horizon, the 
continuous circles the apparent positions caused by the 
lifting-up effect of refraction. We have the positions 
in azimuth of the apparent sun as it appears on a sea 
horizon, and when the horizon is formed by hills up to 
1^- in vertical height. 

To make this quite clear I give a table which has 
been computed by Mr. Rolston, of the Solar Physics 
Observatory, showing azimuths with hills up to 1| 
high for lat. 59 N., and 51 N. nearly the latitude of 
Stonehenge, of the sun's upper limb for the summer 
solstice : 


Lat. 59" 
Rising N E or 
Setting N W. 

Lat. Si- 
Rising N E or 
Setting N W. 

Sun's centre ; uncorrected 

39 16 

50 4'o 

Sun's upper limb ; cor- ( 
rected for semi-diameter -! 
and refraction ... ... 1 

sea horizon 
hill 4 high ... 
1 ,, 

37 1 

38 34 
40 8 
41 30 

49 20 
50 16 
51 12 
52 4 


Rising S E or 
Setting S W. 

Rising S E or 
Setting S W. 

Sun's centre; uncorrected 

39 16 

50 40 

Sun's upper limb ; cor- ( 
rected for semi-diameter -j 
and refraction ... .. ! 

hill 4 high 

41 24 
39 54 
38 23 
36 54 

51 4 
50 8 
49 14 

The first important thing we learn from the table is 
that although at both solstices the azimuths of the 
rising and setting of the sun's centre are the same, 
these azimuths of the upper limb at the summer and 
winter solstices differ in a high northern latitude by 
some 5. The difference arises, of course, from the 




# ': : / 

i i 1 ! 1 I 

! 1 I 1 i 



fact that the limb is some 16' from the sun's centre, 
so that considering the sun's centre as a star with 
fixed declination, at rising the limb appears before the 
centre, and at setting it lags behind it. 

It will also be seen that at sunrise hills increase the 
azimuth from N., and refraction reduces it; while at 
setting, hills reduce the azimuth from S. and refraction 
increases it. 

This diagram and table should fully explain the 
variation of azimuth at sunrise caused by the fact that 
from our present point of view we do not deal with 
the sun as a star. 

To make the foregoing applicable for monuments in 
all latitudes between Brittany and the Orkneys, I give 
still another diagram, Fig. 37, also prepared for me by 
Mr. Rolston which will enable any archaeologist to 
determine approximately, for the present time, the 
azimuth of sunrise at the summer solstice, without 
waiting for the 21st of June in any year actually to 
observe it. 

As before stated, I have dealt with the solstice in 
this chapter because it affords us the most precise 
case. I hope to be able to deal with the May year 
sun in the same way later on. 


STENNESS (Lat. 59 N.). 

I WROTE a good deal in Nature l on sun and star 
temples in 1891, and Mr. Lewis the next year expressed 
the opinion that the British stone monuments, or some 
of them, were sun and star temples. 

Mr. Magnus Spence, of Deerness, in Orkney, published 
a pamphlet, " Standing Stones and Maeshowe of Sten- 
ness," : in 1894; it is a reprint of an article in the 
Scottish Review, October, 1893, showing that the stones 
were set up for solar worship. Mr. Cursiter, F.S.A., of 
Kirk wall, in a letter to me dated March 15, 1894, a 
letter suggested by my " Dawn of Astronomy," which 
appeared in that year, and in which the articles which 
had been published in Nature in 1891 had been ex- 
panded, directed my attention to the pamphlet. 

I began the consideration of the Stenness circles and 
alignments in 1901, but other pressing calls on my time 
then caused me to break off the inquiry. Quite recently 
it occurred to me that a complete study of the Stenness 
circles might throw light on the question of an earlier 

1 See especially Nature, July 2, 1891, p. 201. 

2 Gardner : Paisley and London. 

I2 4 



xni STENNESS 125 

Stonehenge, so I have gone over the old papers, plot- 
ting the results on the Ordnance map. 

Now that the inquiry is as complete as I can make 
it without spending some time in Orkney with a 
theodolite, I will begin my reference to other circles 
besides Stonehenge by stating the conclusions at which 
I have arrived with regard to the stones of Stenness. 

In the first place I may state that although many 
of the alignments to which Mr. Spence refers in his 
pamphlet on Maeshowe prove to be very different from 
those he supposed and drew on the map which accom- 
panies his paper, the main point of his contention is 
amply confirmed. 

I give a copy of the Ordnance map showing the 
true orientation of these and of other sight-lines I 
have made out. 

The alignments on which Mr. Spence chiefly depended 
were two, one running from the stone circle past the 
entrance of Maeshowe to the place of sunrise at Hallow- 
e'en (November l), another from the same circle by 
the Barnhouse standing stone to the mid-winter sunrise 
at the solstice. 

Although the map gives these sight-lines, I shall show 
that they had not the use Mr. Spence attributes to them ; 
but still observations of the sun were provided for on 
the days in question, and the circles and outstanding 
stones were undoubtedly set up to guide astronomical 
observations relating to the different times of the year. 
Of course, as I have shown elsewhere, such astronomical 
observations were always associated with religious cele- 
brations of one kind or another, as the astronomer and 
the priest were one. 




xin STENNESS 127 

I shall not refer to all the sight-lines indicated, but 
deal only with those which I have without local 
knowledge been able to test and justify by means of 
the 25-inch Ordnance map. 

Not only does calculation prove the worship of the 
May and June years, but I think the facts now before 
us really go to show that in Orkney the May year was 
the first established, and that the solstitial (June) year 
came afterwards, and this was one of the chief questions 
I had in view. 

I will begin with the May year. I have already 
shown, p. 22, that the half-way time between an 
equinox and a solstice is when the sun's centre has a 
declination approximately 16 20' N. or S. In Orkney, 
with the latitude of 59, assuming a sea horizon, the 
approximate amplitude of sunrise or sunset is 33 6', 
the corresponding azimuth being 56 54'. 

Now the most interesting and best defined line near 
this azimuth on the Ordnance map is the one stretch- 
ing S.E. from the centre of the Stenness circle to the 
Barnstone, with an azimuth of 57 15'. The line 
contains between the two points I have named another 
stone, the Watchstone, 18^ feet high, in the precise 
alignment ; and from the statements made and 
measures given it is to be inferred that- a still more 
famous and perforated stone, the " Stone of Odin," 
demolished seventy years since, was also in the same 
line within the extremities named. 

If we may accept this we learn something about 
perforated stones, and can understand most of the folk 
lore associated with them, and few have more 
connected with them than the one at Stenness. I 


suggest that the perforation, which was in this case 
5 feet from the ground, was used by the astronomer - 
priest to view the sunrise in November over the Barn- 
house stone in one direction, and the sunset in May over 
the circle in the other. I hope to be able to return 
to this question subsequently. 

There is another echo of this fundamental line ; that 
joining the Eing of Bookan and the Stones of Via has 
the same azimuth and doubtless served the same 
purpose for the May year. 

But this line, giving us the May sunset and November 
sunrise, not the December solstitial sunrise as Mr. 
Spence shows it, is not the only orientation connected with 
the May year at the stones of Stenness. The Novem- 
ber sunset is provided for by a sight-line from the 
circle to a stone across the Loch of Stenness with an 
azimuth of S. 53 30' W. 

To apply the table, given on p. 120, to the solstitial 
risings and settings at Stenness, and the sight-lines 
which I have plotted on the map, it will be seen that 
the table shows us that the lines marked 

S. 41 0' E. 
X. 41 c 16' E. S. 36 C 30' W. 

are solstitial lines ; to get exact agreement with the 
table the heights of the hills must be found and 
allowed for. 

I have roughly determined this height from the 1-inch 
map in the case of the Barnstone-Maeshowe alignment. 
On the N.E. horizon are the Burrien Hills, four miles 
away, 600 feet high at the sunrise place, gradually 
ascending to the E. 5 vertical ano-l e = l c 36' 30". The 



near alignment is on and over the centre of Maesliowe. 
Colonel Johnston, the Director-General of the Ordnance 
Survey, has informed me that the true azimuth of this 
bearing is N. 41 16' E., and in all probability it 
represents the place of sunrise as seen from the Barn- 
stone when Maeshowe was erected. What is most 
required in Orkney now is that some one with a good 
6 -inch theodolite should observe the sun's place of 
rising and the angular height of the hills at the next 
summer solstice in order to determine the date of the 
erection of Maeshowe. Mr. Spence and others made 
an attempt to determine this value with a sextant in 
1899, but not from the Barnstone. 

In the absence of this observation we may use the 
diagram given on p. 121. With the height of hill pre- 
viously given the sun should rise according to calculation 
at about the azimuth N. 41 50' E. 

The difference between the new and old azimuth 
then, on the assumption that az. N. 41 16' E. really 
represents an observation over Maeshowe, gives us the 
difference of date. 

Treating these figures then as we have done in the 
case of Stonehenge in Chapter VII, the result is as 
follows. The Barnhouse Maeshowe line was established 
about 700 B.C., when the obliquity had a value of 23 48' 
according to Stockwell's tables. (Fig. 40.) 

I confess the late date does not surprise me. The 
masonry of Maeshowe differs widely from that of other 
similar structures in that the sides of the gallery and 
chamber, instead of being composed of upright stones, 
are built in regular courses. 

I do not believe that the Maeshowe structure was 



built to observe a winter sunrise twenty days from the 
solstice, nor can I think it was set up at midsummer 
by someone who had only dealt with a high sun and 
a sea horizon, and imagined that the sunrise and sun- 
set points were exactly opposite to each other. It was 
a priest's house, and the alignment of the passage to the 

Obliquity Years. 


o MO looo . 2000 ";";. 5000 .- 4000 



FIG. 40. Variation of the Obliquity of the Ecliptic, 100 A. D. 4000 B.C. 
(Stock well's Values.) 

Barnstone was for the exchange of signals, probably by 
lights in Maeshowe itself. 

The Ordnance maps give no indication of stones, &c., 
by which the direction of the midsummer setting or 
the midwinter rising and setting might have been 
indicated from either the Maeshowe or the Barnstone. 

To sum up the solar alignments from the circle. 

xin STENNESS 131 

We have the May sunrise marked by the top of 
Burrien Hill, from 600 to 700 feet high, Az. 59 30". 

We have the November sunset marked by a stand- 
ins: stone on the other side of the Loch of Stenness. 


Az. 53 30'. 

June rising, Line from Barn stone over Maeshowe 

December rising, tumulus (Az. 41) on Ward Hill. 

December setting, tumulus Onston 36 30'. 

It is not a little remarkable that the summer solstice 
rising and the winter solstice rising and setting seem 
to have been provided for at the Stenness circle by 
alignment on the centres of tumuli, two of them, across 
the Loch, one the Onston tumulus to the S.W. 
(Az. 36 30'), the other tumulus being on Ward Hill 
to the S.E., Az. 41 (rough measurement). 

If the Maeshowe tumulus was a structure erected at the 
time I have suggested to use the Barn stone for the summer 
solstice rising ; then these two other tumuli, to deal 
with the winter solstice at Stenness circle, may have 
been built at the same time. All these provided for a 
new cult. 

There are also tumuli near the line (which cannot be 
exactly determined because the heights of the hills are 
unknown) of the summer solstice setting ; none was 
required for the sunrise at this date, as the line passes 
over the highest point of Hindera fiold, a natural tumulus 
more than 500 feet high, and on that account a triangula- 
tion station. 

Another argument in favour of the tumuli being 
additions to the original design is that the place of the 
November setting from the Stenness circle is marked, 

K 2 


not by a tumulus, but by a standing stone. As this 
stone, near Deepdale, and the tumulus at Onston are 
only about 1200 yards apart, the suggestion may be 
made that under certain unknown conditions and 
possibly in later times tumuli in some cases replaced 
stones as collimation marks. 

With regard to the clock-star, it is to be feared that 
the stones in the N.E. quadrant as viewed from the 
circle which might have given us a clue have been 
removed. As the latitude of Stenness is N. 59, some 
star with a less declination than N. 31 would have 
been chosen, assuming that the sky-line towards the 
N. point is not very high. 

THE HURLERS (Lat. 503l'N.) 

THE sight-lines to which I have drawn attention in 
relation to the stones of Stenness had to do with the 
places of sunrise and sunset in the May and Solstitial 
years. I now pass to another group of circles in which 
we deal chiefly with the places of star-rise and star-set, 
some of the stars being used as warners for sunrise at 
the critical times of the two years in question. 

Following the clue given me in the case of the 
Egyptian temples, such as Luxor, by successive small 
changes of the axis necessitated by the change in a 

o / o 

star's place due to precession, I began this stellar 
branch of the inquiry by looking out for this peculiarity 
in an examination of many maps and plans of circles. 

I very soon came across two examples in which the 
sight-line had been changed in the Egyptian manner. 
The first is the three circles of the Hurlers, some 
5 miles to the north of Liskeard, a plan of which is 
given in " Prehistoric Stone Monuments of the British 
Isles: Cornwall," by W. C. Lukis, Rector of AVath, 
Yorkshire, published by the Society of Antiquaries, who 
were so good as to furnish me with a copy, and also 


some unfolded plans on which sight-lines could be 
accurately drawn and their azimuths determined. I am 
anxious to express my obligations to the council and 
officers of the society for the help thus afforded me. 

The three circles are thus referred to by Lukis 
in the valuable monograph which I have already 

" On the moor, about a mile to the south of the 
singular pile of granite slabs, which rest upon and 
overlap each other, and is vulgarly called the Cheese- 
wring, there are three large circles of granite stones 
placed in a nearly straight line in a north-north-east, 
and south-south-west direction, of which the middle 
one is the largest, being 135 feet in diameter, the north 
110 feet, and the south 105 feet. 

"The north Circle is 98 feet, and the south 82 feet 
from the central one. If a line be drawn uniting 
the centres of the extreme Circles, the centre of the 
middle ring is found to be 12 feet 6 inches to the west 
of it. 

' These Circles have been greatly injured. The 
largest consists of 9 erect and 5 prostrate stones ; the 
north Circle has 6 erect and 6 prostrate, and a fragment 
of a seventh ; and the south has 3 erect and 8 prostrate. 
In Dr. Borlase's time they were in a slightly better 
condition. A pen-and-ink sketch made by him, which 
is extant in one of Dr. Stukeley's volumes of original 
drawings, represents the middle Circle as consisting of 
7 erect and 10 prostrate stones; the north of 10 erect 
and 6 prostrate ; and the south of 3 erect and 9 
prostrate. The stone to the east of that marked C in 
the plan of the middle Circle is the highest, and is 

xiv THE HURLERS 135 

5 feet 8 inches out of the ground, and appears to have 
been wantonly mutilated recently. Two of the prostrate 
stones of the north Circle are 6 feet 6 inches in 

"About 17 feet south from the centre of the middle 
Circle there is a prostrate stone 4 feet long and 
15 inches wide at one end. It may possibly have been 
of larger dimensions formerly, and been erected on the 
spot where it now lies, but as Dr. Borlase has omitted 
it in his sketch it is probably a displaced stone of the 

"If we allow, as before, an average interval of 12 feet 
between the stones, there will have been about 28 pillars 
in the north, 26 in the south, and 33 in the middle 

" At a distance of 409 feet westwards from K in the 
middle Circle there are 2 stones, 7 feet apart, both 
inclined northwards. One is 4 feet 11 inches in height 
out of the ground, and overhangs its base 2 feet 
7 inches ; the other is 5 feet 4 inches high, and over- 
hangs 18 inches." 

I now pass from a general description of the circles 
to the azimuths of the sight-lines already referred to, 
so far as they can be determined from the published 
Ordnance maps. 

To investigate them as completely as possible without 
local observations in the first instance, I begged Colonel 
Johnston, R.E., C.B., the Director-General of the 
Ordnance Survey, to send me the 2 5 -inch maps of the 
site giving the exact azimuth of the side lines. This 
he obligingly did, and I have to express my great in- 
debtedness to him. 




In Fig. 41 I show the sight-lines from the south and 
north Circles as determined by the stones and barrows 
marked on the map. The sight-lines on Arcturus are from 

, \ '--, "-" ~" - 


. . YK | # "' 

^\ >-N-MUV'..^ 

FIG. 41. The Sight-lines at the Hurlers. 

the centres of the three circles in succession. 1 shall 
point out later the significance of the fact that the 
November alignments are from the south, the solstitial 
ones from the north Circle. 

xiv THE HURLERS 137 

Of the various sight-lines found, those to which 1 
wish to direct attention in the first instance, and which 
led me to the others, are approximately, reading the 
azimuths to the nearest degree, 

Lat. 50 31' N. Az. 

S. circle to central circle . . . N. 12 E. 

Central to N. circle . . . . N. 15 E. 

N. circle to tumulus . . . . N. 19 E. 

In a preliminary inquiry in anticipation of the 
necessary local observations with a theodolite, I assumed 
hills half a degree high, for the reason given on p. 112. 
We have the following declinations approximately : 

Dec. K 381 

Here, then, we have declinations to work on, but 
declinations of what star ? To endeavour to answer 
this question I studied the declinations of the three 
brightest stars in the northern heavens, having ap- 
proximately the declinations in question some time or 
other during the period to 2500 B.C. 

Vega is ruled out as its declination was too high. 
The remaining stars Capella and Arcturus may have 
been observed so far as the declinations go. For time 
limits we have : 

Dec. N. Capella. Arcturus. 

38 500 B.C. 1600 B.C. 

36 1050 1150 

Now there is no question as to which of these two 
stars we have to deal with, for the northern circle is 


evidently less ancient than the others, for some of the 
stones are squared and the others are less irregular than 
those in the S. circle. 

This being so, the approximate dates of the use of 
the three circles at the Hurlers can be derived. They 
are, with the above assumption : 


Southern circle aligning Arcturus over centre of central circle 1600 
Central N. circle 1500 

Northern tumulus 1300 

The next step was to obtain, by means of a large 
circular protractor, more accurate readings of the 
Ordnance Map. This I could do, but the all important 
question of the angular height of the horizon remained. 
As it was impossible for me to leave London when the 
significance of the alignments was made out, I appealed 
to the authorities of the Eoyal Cornwall Polytechnic 
Society for aid in obtaining the necessary angles, and 
as a result, Captain J. S. Henderson, of Falmouth, an 
accomplished surveyor, volunteered his aid and shortly 
sent me the angular heights along some of the align- 
ments, the means of eight readings obtained with a 
6-inch theodolite, both verniers and reversed telescopes 
being employed. Other students of science besides 
myself will, I am sure, feel their indebtedness for such 
opportune help. 

The combination of the large protractor and theo- 
dolite work gives the following final values. The 
difference between them and the provisional ones 
given above speaks volumes as to the necessity of a 
local study of the height of the horizon, a point I 
believe invariably neglected by archaeologists. 

xiv THE HURLERS 139 


Arcturus from S. circle to central circle. 

Az. N. 11 15' E. Hills, 3 23' 52" high. 

Dec. = 41 38' DATE, 2170 B.C. 

Arcturus from central circle to N, circle. 

Az. N. 14 18'E. Same hills. 

Z>ec. = 41 9' DATE, 2090 B.C. 

Arcturus from N. circle to Barrow. 

Az. N. 18 14' E. Same hills. 

Dec. = 40 6' DATE, 1900 B.C. 

Now before this evidence of star worship, so im- 
portant if it can be depended on, could be accepted, it 
was necessary to make a special inquiry as to the 
existence of similar star observations in other places. 
Many have been found of which more in the sequel. 

The next point which arose was that Arcturus used 
as a clock-star (p. 108) would serve as a warner for 
August. This necessitated another inquiry into the 
chief festivals in Cornwall : among these the August 
(Harvest) festival is one. 

Another point to consider was whether there was 
any evidence of a local August festival. " It happens 
that the Hurlers are in the parish of St. Cleer, and 
some of the other Arcturus sight-lines are in that of 
St. Just. Now, a local festival in old days was often 
associated with the local Saint. As most of the 
Cornish Saints are common to Cornwall and Brittany, 
I looked up the Calendar of the Annuaire of the 
Institut de France, and found that the days dedicated 


to SS. Justin and Claire are the 9th and 12th of 
August. It seems, then, that at the Hurlers it was 
really a question of a clock- star also used as a warning 
star for the August festival. I think we have at last, 
then, run to earth the origin of some of the northerly 
alignments referred to on pages 36 and 43. 

It will have been noted that the last sight-line on 
Arcturus was marked by a barrow. Captain Henderson 
inspected it and found it much ruined by explorers, 
remains of a chamber inside being visible. 

In a subsequent visit, in which Captain Henderson 
was accompanied by Mr. Horton Bolitho, my w r ife and 
myself, we not only visited this barrow, but found that 
the whole hill had been honeycombed to such an 
extent by mining operations that it was very difficult 
to discriminate between " investigated " barrows and 
other heaps and holes, unless the barrow r showed the 
remains of a chamber. 

Our examination was not limited to barrows. 
Captain Henderson had spent a long bleak day in ex- 
amining and measuring the stones marked on the 
Ordnance Map, to which I had called his special 
attention. We went over part of the ground with him. 
and came to the conclusion that the whole question of 
the Cornish treatment of "ancient stones" would 
have to be gone into an inquiry which Mr. Bolitho is 
now carrying on. 

It must be remembered that any stone or barrow 
used in the sight-lines we are now considering must 
have been put up nearly 4,000 years ago, so long ago, 
in fact, that many of the chief barrows have been 
reduced to the skeletons of their former selves, the 

xiv THE HURLERS 141 

enclosed stone chamber, built of mighty stones, alone 

Cromlechs and standing stones then formed important 
points in the landscape long before ecclesiastical 
divisions were thought of, or any attempt was made 
to indicate the boundaries of private property. 

We should expect then to find these ancient 
monuments freely made use of to mark what we now 
term " parish boundaries." This is so. Four parishes 
have thus used one of the larger cromlechs, and it is 
more than probable that something beside the de- 
nunciation of the cultus lapidum, which we have 
seen at work in Brittany (p. 39), has been responsible 
for the many stone crosses in Cornwall. Of some of 
them near circles I have gathered the astronomical use, 
while now they "mark the bounds," as do some of the 
stone rows in Dartmoor. 

I believe that in later times this practice of the 
Church was followed by those among whom the land 
was distributed, and this has gone on till at last there 
are many ancient stones trimmed on one side and 
bearing initials and so having a modern appearance. 
The astronomer, and even the archaeologist, may regret 
this practice, but as the habit in Cornwall appears to 
be for anybody to use the nearest uncrossed and un- 
initialled stone for a wall or a pigsty, Mr. Bolitho's 
inquiry may show that in some cases, at all events, it 
has been a blessing in disguise, for the stones are still 

In the case of a long chambered barrow, the top of 
which nearly touches the horizon, as seen from a circle 
near it, there is less danger of being misled. 


In my notes on the stones of Stenness (Chapter XIII) 
I pointed out that the chambered Cairns at Onston 
and Maeshowe suggested that such structures were later 
variants of the more ancient standing stones. Some 
barrows at the Hurlers lend further confirmation of this 
view. I will deal with them first. Of one the data 
are Az. from N. Circle S. 72 49' W., height of horizon 
12' (Capt. Henderson). The resulting declination is 
S. 11 5', the declination of Antares 1720 B.C. But 
why should Antares be thus singled out ? The table 
on page 117 shows the reason. At the date involved 
the setting of Antares in the dawn was the warner of 
the sunrise on May morning, the greatest day in all 
the year. 

Is there any precedent for this use of Antares ? 

I have already pointed out (p. 108) that Mr. Penrose 
found the warning stars for May morning at the dates 
of foundation of the Hecatompedon, and the older 
Erechtheum, to be the group of the Pleiades rising 
and Antares setting. As the foundations of the 
Hecatompedon were built only some few years after the 
stones of the central circle of the Hurlers were used, 
we ought to find traces of the observations of the 
same May-morning stars. 

We have, then, now a third term in the astronomical 
use of stars to herald the sunrise on May morning. 

Temple of Min Thebes . . 3200 B.C. . . Spica. 

Temple at the Hurlers . . . Liskeard . .1720 ,, . . Antares. 
Older Erechtheum .... Athens . .1070 . . 

The next barrow to be referred to it is shown 
to be a long one on the Ordnance Map is situated 

xiv THE HURLERS 143 

near the top of Caradon Hill, and is visible on the sky- 
line from the circles. Data : Az. from N. Circle S. 65 E., 
height of horizon 1 38' (Henderson). This corresponds 
almost exactly with the azimuth of the rise of the 
sun's upper limb with declination S. 16 20' on the two 
critical dates in November and February of the May- 
year (Halloween and Candlemas, see p. 23), so I am 
inclined to consider it more than a mere coincidence 
that the azimuths coincide so closely. It, however, 
may be urged that there are other barrows on Caradon 
Hill, but judging from the Ordnance Map they seem 
to be of the round variety used for burials, perhaps a 
thousand years after the circles were in use, and in 
my opinion by a different race of men ; but this matter 
must not detain us now, I hope to return to it later. 

Still one more barrow and a stone, uncrossed and 
uninitialled, in the same sight-line, data : Az. from 
N. circle S. 59 35' E. Height of horizon 1 38' 23" 
(Henderson), resulting declination S. 19 50'. This was 
the declination of Sirius 1690 B.C. Why Sirius ? The 
table on p. 117 gives us the answer. Sirius replaced 
Arcturus as a warning star for the August festival, 
and we have seen that the last use of Arcturus w T as 
connected with the sight-line to the barrow about 
1900 B.C. 

I pass now from barrows to stones. There is one 
about which there can be no question. It is a famous 
Cross, a " Longstone " at which all travellers stop on 
their way from St. Cleer to the Hurlers. It occupies 
nearly the same position on the S.W. horizon as does 
the long tumulus on Caradon Hill in the S.E. quadrant. 
From the South Circle, and this is important, its 

i 44 STONEHENGE CH. xiv 

Azimuth, S. 64 "VV., is nearly the same ; it marked, and 
still marks, the sunset point on the critical days of 
the May year in November and February. 

There is another stone marked on the Ordnance Map 

Az. N. 88 E. from the N. circle. It has been removed, 

so I may fairly assume that it was really an ancient 
stone. Captain Henderson's value for the height of 
the horizon is 11' 31". The table on p. 117 will 
show that in this direction we have to deal with 
Betelgeuse as a warner for the summer solstice. The 


resulting date is 1730 B.C. 

It would appear that possibly this is not the only 
stone dealing with (later) solstitial alignments. Lukis. 
gives two stones on the west side of the circles which 
on the Ordnance Map are classed as boundary stones : 
they lie on a boundary beyond all question, but also 
beyond all question they are as ancient as the stones 
of the circles themselves. From the N. circle they are 
almost but not quite in a line, and the azimuth of the 
south stone is S. 49 W. This is a solstitial azimuth. 
I think, therefore, that we may accept this as another 
evidence of the worship of the setting sun at the 
winter solstice, from the N. circle, and in this we 
have still further evidence that to the worship of 
the May year in the south circle was added later one 
dealing with the solstitial year which was chiefly carried 
on in the N. circle. 



IN Chapter XI. I referred to the very numerous 
alignments of stones in Brittany, and I was allowed by 
Lieutenant Devoir, of the French Navy, to give some 
of his theodolite observations of the directions alono- 


which the stones had been set up. 

The conclusion was that we were really dealing with 
monuments connected with the worship of the sun of 
the May year, a year which the recent evidence has 
shown to have been the first used after the length 
of the year had been determined ; thus replacing the 
lunar unit of time which was in vogue previously, and 
the use of which is brought home to us by the reputed 
ages of Methuselah and other biblical personages, who 
knew no other measurer of time than the moon. 

There was also evidence to the effect that in later 
times solstitial alignments had been added, so that the 
idea that we were dealing with astronomically oriented 
rows of stones was greatly strengthened, not to say 

So long as the Brittany alignments were things of 
mystery, their origin, as well as that of the more or less 
similar monuments in Britain, was variously explained ; 



they were models in stone of armies in battle array, or 
they represented funeral processions, to mention only two 
suggestions. I should add that Mr. H. Worth, who has 


devoted much time to their study, considers that some 
sepulchral interest attaches to them, though he thinks 
it may be argued that that was secondary, even as are 
interments in cathedrals and churches. About burials 
associated with them, of course, there is no question, 
for the kistvaens and cairns are there ; but my observa- 
tions suggest that they were added long after the avenues 
were built, because some cairns block avenues. Perhaps 
a careful study of the modes of burial adopted may throw 
light on this point. 

The equivalents of the Brittany alignments are not 
common in Britain ; they exist in the greatest number 
on Dartmoor, whither I went recently to study them. 
The conditions on high Dartmoor are peculiar ; dense 
blinding mists are common, and, moreover, sometimes 
come on almost without warning. From its conformation 
the land is full of streams. There are stones everywhere. 
What I found, therefore, as had others before me, was 
that as a consequence of the conditions to which I have 
referred, directions had been indicated by rows of stones 
for quite other than ceremonial purposes. Here, then, 
was another possible origin. It was a matter of great 
importance to discriminate most carefully between these 
alignments, and to endeavour to sort them out. My 
special inquiry, of course, was to see if they, like their 
apparent equivalents in Brittany, could have had an 
astronomical origin. The first thing to do, then, was to 
see which might have been erected for worship or which 
for practical purposes. 


In doing this there is .no difficulty in dealing with 
extremes. Thus one notable line of large flat stones has 
been claimed by Messrs. R. N. Worth and R. Burnard 
as a portion of the Great Fosseway (Rowe's Perambula- 
tion, third edition, p. 63) ; it has been traced for 
eighteen miles from beyond Hameldon nearly to 

Pkoto. by Lady Lockytr. 

FIG. 42. The Southern Avenue at Merrivale, looking East. 

Tavistock, the stones being about 2 feet thick and the 
road 10 feet wide. 

There are two notable avenues of upright stones at 
Merrivale ; they are in close connection with a circle, 
and could have had no practical use. These stones, 
then, we may claim as representing the opposite extreme 
of the Fosseway and as suggesting an astronomical, as 
opposed to a prastical, use ; the adjacent circle, of course 
greatly strengthens this view. 

L 2 


It is between these extremes that difficulties may 
arise, but the verdict can, in a great many cases at all 
events, be settled without any very great hesitation, 
especially where practical or astronomical uselessness 
can be established. But even here care is necessary, as 
I shall show. 

The stones now in question, originally upright, are 
variously called avenues, rows, alignments or paralleli- 
thons. Their study dates from 1827, when Rowe and 
Colonel Hamilton Smith examined those at Merrivale 
(Rowe, op. cit., p. 31). Their number has increased 
with every careful study of any part of the moof, and 
doubtless many are still unmapped. 1 The late Mr. R. N. 
Worth, of Plymouth, and his son, Mr. H. Worth, have 
given great attention to these monuments, and the 
former communicated a paper on them to the Devonshire 
Association for the Advancement of Science in 1892 
(Trans., xxv. pp. 387-417). 

A word of caution must be said before [ proceed. 
We must not take for granted that the stone-rows are 
now as they left the hands of the builders. The 
disastrous carelessness of the Government in the matter 
of our national antiquities is, I am locally informed, 
admirably imitated by the Devonshire County and other 
lesser councils, and, indeed, by anybody who has a road 
to mend or a wall to build. On this account, any of 
the rows may once have been much longer and with 
an obvious practical use ; and those which now appear 

1 On June 15, 1905, that excellent guide of the Chagford 
part of the moor, Mr. S. Perrott, showed me an avenue (Azimuth IS". 
20 E. true) near Hurston Ridge which is not given in the 1-inch 


to be far removed from circles may once have been 
used for sacred processions at shrines which have dis- 

Again, the rows of stones we are now considering- 
must not be confounded with the "track lines" or 
" boundary banks " which are so numerous on Dart- 
moor, and are represented in Wiltshire according to Sir 
R. C. Hoare ; these serve for bounds and pathways, and 
for connecting and enclosing fields or houses. 

Dealing, then, with stone rows or avenues, which 
may be single, double, or multiple ; any which are very 
long and crooked, following several directions, are cer- 
tainly not astronomical ; and it is easy to see in some 
cases that they might have been useful guides at night 
or in mist in difficult country with streams to cross. 
This possible utility must not be judged wholly by the 
present conformation of the ground or the present beds 
of streams. 

For multiple avenues it is hard to find practical uses 
such as the above, and we know how such avenues 
were used in Brittany for sun worship. Mr. Baring 
Gould considers there were eight rows in an avenue 
on Challacombe Down 528 feet long ; of these only 
three rows remain, the others being represented by 
single stones here and there (Rowe, p. 33). I shall 
have something to say about this avenue further on. 

Although, as I have said, long rows bending in 
various directions are not likely to have had an astro- 
nomical origin, it must not be assumed that all astro- 
nomical avenues must be exactly straight. This, of 
course, would be true for level ground, but if the 
avenue has to pass over ridges and furrows, the varying 


height of the horizon must be reckoned with, and 
therefore the azimuth of the avenue at any point 
along it. 

I think it possible that in the Stalldon Moor row 
we have the mixture of religious and practical inten- 
tion at which I have before hinted. Both Mr. Lukis 
and Mr. Hansford Worth have studied this monument, 
which is two miles and a quarter long. There is a 
circle at the south end about 60 feet in diameter, 
while at its northern end there is a cairn. 

Where the line starts from the circle the direction of 
the row is parallel to many sight-lines in Cornwall, 
and Arcturus would rise in the azimuth indicated. 
But this direction is afterwards given up for one which 
leads towards an important collection of hut circles, and 
it crosses the Ernie, no doubt at the most convenient 
spot. More to the north it crosses another stream and 
the bog of Red Lake. All this is surely practical 
enough, although the way indicated might have been 
followed by the priests of the hut circles to the stone 
circle to prepare the morning sacrifice and go through 
the ritual. 

But there is still another method of discrimination. 
If any of these avenues were used at all for purposes 
of worship, their azimuths should agree with those 
already found in connection with circles in other parts 
of Britain, for we need not postulate a special race with 
a special cult limited to Dartmoor ; and in my inquiries 
what I have to do is to consider the general question 
of orientation wherever traces of it can be found. The 
more the evidences coincide the better it is for the 
argument, while variations afford valuable tests. 


Now, speaking very generally (I have not yet compared 
all mv numerous notes), in Cornwall the chief alignments 

V J ' O 

from the circles there are with azimuths N. 10 20 E. 
watching the rise of the clock-star, N. 64 68 E. 
watching the rise of the May sun, N. 75 82 E. 
watching the rise of the Pleiades. The variation in 
the azimuths is largely due to the different heights of 
the horizon towards which the sight-lines are directed. 

The conclusion I have come to is that these align- 
ments, depending upon circles and menhirs in Cornwall, 
are all well represented on Dartmoor associated with 
the avenues ; and further, so far as I have learned at 
present, in the case of the avenues connected with 
circles, there are not many alignments I have not met 
with in connection with circles in Cornwall and 

This is not only a prima facie argument in favour 
of the astronomical use underlying the structures, but it 
is against the burial theory, for certainly there must 
have been burials in Cornwall. 

In order, therefore, to proceed with the utmost 
caution, I limit myself in the first instance to the above 
azimuths, and will begin by applying a test which 
should be a rigid one. 

If the avenues on Dartmoor had to deal with the 
same practices and cults as did the circles in Cornwall, 
they ought to prove themselves to have been in use at 
about the same time, and from this point of view the 
investigation of the avenues becomes of very great im- 
portance, because of the destruction of circles and 
menhirs which has been going on, and is still going 
on, on Dartmoor. We have circles without menhirs 


and menhirs without circles, so that the azimuths of 
the avenues alone remain to give us any .chance of 
dating the monuments if they were used in connection 
with star worship. The case is far different in Corn- 
wall, where both circles and menhirs have in many 
cases been spared. 

On Dartmoor, where in some cases the menhirs still 
remain, they have been annexed as crosses and perhaps 
as boundary stones, and squared and initialed ; hence 
the Ordnance surveyors have been misled, and they 
are not shown as ancient stones on the map. In some 
cases the azimuth of the stones suggests that this has 
been the sequence of events. 

It will be seen from the above that I have not 
tackled a question full of pitfalls without due caution, 
and this care was all the more necessary as the avenues 
have for long been the meeting ground of the friends 
and foes of what Rowe calls " Druidical speculations" ; 
even yet the war rages, and my writing and Lieut. 
Devoir's observing touching the similar but grander 
avenues of Brittany have so far been all in vain ; 
chiefly, I think, because no discrimination has been 
considered possible between different uses of avenues, 
and because the statements made by archaeologists as 
to their direction have been quite useless to anybody in 
consequence of their vagueness, and last of all because 
the recent work on the Brittany remains is little known. 

I began my acquaintance with the Dartmoor monu- 
ments by visiting Merrivale, and the result of my 
inquiries there left absolutely no doubt whatever on my 
mind. I was armed, thanks to the kindness of Colonel 
Johnston, the Director of the Ordnance Survey, with the 


2 5 -inch map, while Mr. Hansford Worth had been so 
good as to send me one showing his special survey. 

The Merrivale avenues (lat. 50 33' 15") are composed 
of two double rows, roughly with the azimuth X. 82E. ; 
the northern row is shorter than the other. Rowe, 
in his original description (1830), makes the northern 
1143 feet long; they are not quite parallel, and the 
southern row has a distinct " kink " or change of direc- 
tion in it at about the centre. The stones are mostly 
2 or 3 feet high, and in each row they are about 3 feet 
apart ; the distance between the rows is about 80 feet. 

I have before pointed out (p. 149) that an avenue 
directed to the rising place of a star, if it is erected 
over undulating ground, cannot be straight. I may now 
mention another apparent paradox. If two avenues are 
directed to the rising place of the same star at 
different times, they cannot be parallel. It is not a 
little curious that absence of parallelism has been used 
ao-ainst avenues havino- had an astronomical use ! 


Both the Ordnance surveyors and Mr. Worth have 
shown the want of parallelism of the two avenues, and 
Mr. Worth has noted the kink in the southern one. 
The height of the horizon, as determined from my 
measures, is 3 18'. The results of these inquiries, 
assuming the Pleiades to have been observed warning 
May morning, are as follows : 

Azimuth. Authority. N. Declination. Date B.C. 

N. 83-15 E. 


6 47 47 




7 16 20 




7 32 




8 26 




8 30 





To simplify matters we may deal with the Ordnance 
values and neglect the small change of direction in 
the southern avenue. We have, then, the two dates 
1580 B.C. and 1420 B.C. for the two avenues. The 
argument for the Pleiades is strengthened by the fact 
that at Athens the Hecatompedon was oriented to 
these stars in 1495 B.C. according to Mr. Penrose's 
determination of the azimuth. 

Now this is not the first time I have referred to 



FIG. 43. Plan, from the Ordnance Map, showing the avenues, circle and stones 
at Merrivale, with their azimuths. 

avenues in these notes. The azimuth of one at Stone- 
henge was used to fix the date at which sun worship 
went on there. That avenue, unlike the Dartmoor 
ones, was built o earth, and it is not alone. There is 
another nearly two miles long called the Cursus. So 
far, I have found no solstitial worship on Dartmoor, 
so there are no avenues parallel to the one at Stone- 
henge leading X.E. from the temple. But how about 
the other ? It is roughly parallel to the avenues at 



Merrivale, and I think, therefore, ivas, like them, used 
as a processional road, a via sacra, to ivatch the 
rising of the Pleiades. 

I said roughly parallel ; its azimuth is about the 
same (N. 82 E. roughly) ; but the horizon is only 
about 1 high ; it was therefore in use before those at 

.// i n t}t o ,i ^/>r,~Z~iT 

'' ' 

FIG. 44. Reprint of Ordnance Map showing that the Cursus at Stonehenge is 
nearly parallel to the Merrivale Avenue. The azimuth is 82 and not 84 as 
shown in the figure. 

Merrivale ; the exact date of use must wait for theo- 
dolite values of the height of the horizon, but in the 
meantime we can see from the above estimates that 
the declination of the Pleiades was about N. 5 28' 30" 
and the date of use 1950 B.C., that is some 300 years 
before the solstitial restoration. 

Mr. Worth's survey gives another line of stones. It is 
undoubtedly, I think, an ancient line, although it is 
not shown in the Ordnance map, a clear indication of 


the difficulty of discriminating these avenues on land 
cumbered with stones in all directions. Its azimuth is 
N. 24 25' E., and the height of the horizon 5 10'. 
This gives us Arcturus at the date 1860 B.C., showing 
that, as at the Hurlers, Arcturus was used as a clock- 
star. Hence a possible astronomical use is evident, 
while this row, like the others, could have been of no 
practical use to anybody. It is interesting to note that 
this single row of stones is older than the double 
ones ; this seems natural. 

It is worth while to say a word as to the different 
treatment of the ends of the south avenue now that it 
seems probable that it was used to watch the rising of 
the Pleiades. At the east end there is what archaeo- 
logists term a "blocking stone"; these observations 
suggest that it was really a sighting stone. At the 
west end such a stone is absent, but the final stones 
in the avenue are longer than the rest. This may help 
us in the true direction of the sight-lines in other 
avenues ; and, indeed, I shall show in the sequel that 
this consideration affords a criterion which, in the 
cases I have come across, is entirely in harmony with 



MY inquiries began at Merrivale because there is a 
circle associated with the avenues a little to the 
south of the west end of the longest ; and again nearly, 
or quite, south of this there is a fine menhir, possibly 
used to give a north-south line. There is another men- 
hir given on the Ordnance map, azimuth N. 70 30' E., 
which, with hills 3 high, points out roughly the place 
of sunrise from the circle in May (April 29). Although 
this stone has been squared and initialed, I think I am 
justified in claiming it as an ancient monument. 
There is still another, azimuth N. 83 E., giving a 
line from the circle almost parallel to the avenue. I 
hope some local archaeologist will examine it, for if 
ancient it will tell us whether the N. avenue or the 
circle was built first, a point of which it is difficult to 
overrate the importance, as it will show the strict 
relationship between the astronomy of the avenues 
and that of the circle, and we can now, I think, deal 
with the astronomical use of circles after the results 
obtained at Stonehenge, Stenness and the Hurlers as 
an accepted fact. With the above approximate values 


the date comes out 1750 B.C., the declination of the 
Pleiades being N. 6 35'. 

I now pass on from Merrivale as an example of 
those avenues the direction of which lies somewhere 
in the E.-W. direction. Others which I have not 
seen, given by Eowe, are at Assacombe, Drizzlecombe 
and Trowlesworthy ; to these Mr. Worth adds Harter 
or Har Tor (or Black Tor). 

The avenues which lie nearly N. and S. are more 
numerous. Eowe gives the following : Fernworthy, 
Challacombe, Trowlesworthy, Stalldon Moor, Batten- 
don, Hook Lake, and Tristis Rock. Of these I have 
visited the first two, as well as one on Shovel Down 
not named by Rowe, and the next two I have studied 
on the 6-inch Ordnance map. 

Fernworthy (lat. 50 38'). Here are two avenues, 
one with azimuth N. 15 45' E., hills 1 15'. There is a 
sighting stone at the N. end. We appear to be dealing 
with Arcturus as clock-star 1610 B.C. This is about the 
date of the erection of the N. avenue at Merrivale. 

The second avenue has its sighting stone built into a 
wall at the south end. Looking south along the avenue, 
the conditions are azimuth S. 8 42' W., hills 3 30'. 

Both these avenues are aligned on points within, 
but not at the centre of, the circle. 

Challacombe (lat. 50 36'). This is a case of a 
triple avenue, probably the remains of eight rows, in 
a depression between two hills, Challacombe Down 
and Warrington. There is no circle. The azimuth is 
23 37' N.W. or S.E., according to direction. The 
northern end has been destroyed by an old stream 
work ; there is no blocking stone to the south on 


either of the remaining avenues, but one large menhir 
terminates one row of stones. The 
others may have been removed. So 
it is probable that the alignment 
was to the north. If so, we are deal- 
ing with the setting of Arcturus, 
warning the summer solstice sunrise 
in 1860 B.C. To the S. the hills 
are 4 48', to the N. 4 50'. 

To this result some importance 
must be attached, first, because it 
brings us into presence of the cult 
of the solstitial year, secondly, be- 
cause it shows us that the system 
most in vogue in Brittany was in- 
troduced in relation to that year. 
In Brittany, as I have before shown, 
the complicated alignments, there 
are 11 parallel rows at Le Menac 
(p. 99) (there ivere 8 parallel rows 
at Challacombe), were set up to 
watch the May and August sun- 
rises, and the solstitial alignments 
came afterwards. The Brittany 
May alignments, therefore, were pro- 
bably used long before 1860 B.C., 
the date we have found for Chal- 
lacombe, where not the sunrise 
but the setting star which gave 
warning of it w T as observed. 

It is worth while to point out that 
at Challacombe, as elsewhere, the priest-astronomers so 


located their monuments that the nearly circumpolar stars 
which were so useful to them should rise over an horizon 
of some angular height. In this way the direction- 
lines would be available for a longer period of time, for 
near the north point the change of azimuth with change 
in the declination of the star observed is very rapid. 

Shovel Down, near Batworthy (lat. 50 39' 20"). A 
group of five rows of stones, four double, one single, 
with two sets of azimuths. 

One set gives az. 22, 25, and 28. They seem to 
be associated. I will call them A, B, and C. A is 
directed to the circle on Godleigh Common. Its ends 
are free. B is a single line of stones to the E. of the 
triple circle, about which more presently. It is not 
marked on the Ordnance map ; its ends are also free. 
C has its south end blocked, I think in later times, 
by a kistvaen. The astronomical direction may be, 
therefore, either N.W. or S.E. We find a probable use 
in the N.W. quadrant, as at Challacombe, Arcturus 
setting at daybreak as a warner of the summer solstice. 

The height of hills is 46' ; we have then : 


N. Dec. 



N. 22 W. 

36 19' 40" 


1210 B.C. 

K 25 W. 

35 23' 20" 



N. 28 W. 

34 19' 30" 


850 , 

Adjacent to A, B, C, is another avenue, which I 
will call D. Unlike the others, its northern end points 
2 E. of N. Its southern end is blocked by a remarkable 
triple circle, the end of the avenue close to it being 
defined by two tall terminal stones. We are justified, 
then, in thinking that its orientation was towards the 
north ; the height of the horizon 1 measured as 45'. It 


may have been an attempt to mark the N. point of the 

The triple circle to which I have referred is not an 
ordinary circle. I believe it to be a later added, much 
embellished, cairn. According to Ormerod, the diameters 
are 26, 20, and 3 feet, and there are three small stones 
at the centre. 

All the above avenues are on the slope of the hill to the 
north. On the south slope we find the longest of all, as 
shown on the Ordnance map survey of 1885. There 
is a " long stone " in its centre, and at the southern 
end was formerly a cromlech, the " three boys." Part of 
this avenue, and two of the three " boys," have been 
taken to build a wall. The long stone remains, because 
it is a boundary stone ! 

The azimuth is 2 30' W. of north or E. of south. 
Looking N. from the long stone, the height of the 
horizon is 2 30'. I think this avenue was an attempt 
to mark the S. point. 

Trowleswortliy (lat. 50 27' 30"). The remains here are 
most interesting. This is the only monument on Dart- 
moor in which I have so far traced any attempt 
to locate the sun's place at rising either for the May 
or solstitial year. But I will deal with .the N.-S. 
avenue first, as it is this feature which associates it 
with Fernworthy and Challacombe. 

As at Merrivale. the avenue has a decided "kink" 
or change of direction. The facts as gathered from the 
6 -inch map are as follows : 

Az. Hills. Dec. N, Star. Date. 

S. part of Avenue N. 7 E. 2 52' 41 29' 10" Arcturus 2130 B.C. 
K N.12E. 2 52' 41 6' 20" 2080 B.C. 





This date is very nearly that of the use of the S. 
circle at the Hurlers, and it is early for Dartmoor ; but 
it is quite possible that local observations on an 
associated avenue a little to the west of the circle 
which terminates the N.-S. avenue will justify it. 

FIG. 46. The sight-lines at Trowlesworthy, showing high northern azimuths. 
From the Ordnance map. 

This is not far from parallel to that at Merrivale, but 
its northern azimuth is greater, so that if it turns out to 
have been aligned on the Pleiades its date will be some 
time before that of Merrivale, that is, before 1580 B.C. 
I can say nothing more about it till I have visited it. 
The new features to which I have referred are two 


tumuli which in all probability represent more recent 
additions to the original scheme of observation, as we 
have found at Stenness, and show that Trowlesworthy 
was for long one of the chief centres of worship on 
Dartmoor. Their azimuths are S. 64 E. and S. 49 W., 
dealing, therefore, with the May year sunrises in 
November and February and the solstitial sunset in 
December. It is probable that, as at the Hurlers, 
tumuli were used instead of stones not earlier than 
1900 B.C. 

Stalldon Moor (lat, 50 27' 45") I have already 
incidentally referred to. The azimuth of the stone 
row as it leaves the circle, not from its centre as I 
read the 6-inch map, is N. 3 E. ; as the azimuth gradu- 
ally increases for a time, we may be dealing with 
Arcturus, but local observation is necessary. 

The differences between the Cornish and Dartmoor 
monuments give much food for thought, and it is to 
be hoped that they will be carefully studied by future 
students of orientation, as so many questions are 
suggested. I will refer to some of them. 

(1) Are the avenues, chiefly consisting of two rows of 
stones, a reflection of the sphinx avenues of Egypt ? 
and, if so, how can the intensification of them on 
Dartmoor be explained ? 

(2) Was there a double worship going on in the 
avenues and the circles at the same time ? If not, why 
were the former not aligned on the circles ? On a dead 
level, of course, if the avenues were aligned on the 
centre of the circle towards the rising or setting of the 
sun or a star, the procession in the via sacra would 
block the view of those in the circle. We have the 

M 2 


avenue at Stonehenge undoubtedly aligned on the centre 
of the circle, but there the naos was on an eminence, 
so that the procession in the avenue was always below 
the level of the horizon, and so did not block the 

(3) Do all the cairns and cists in the avenues re- 
present later additions, so late, indeed, that they may 
have been added after the avenues had ceased to be 
used for ceremonial purposes ? The cairn at nearly 
the central point of the S. avenue at Merrivale was 
certainly not there as a part of the structure when the 
avenue was first used as a via sacra for observing the 
rising of the Pleiades. I have always held that these 
ancient temples, and even their attendant long and 
chambered barrows, were for the living and not for the 
dead, and this view has been strengthened by what I 
have observed on Dartmoor. 

There was good reason for burials after the sacred 
nature of the spot had been established, and they may 
have taken place at any time since ; the most probable 
time being after 1000 B.C. up to a date as recent as 
archseologists may consider probable. 

Mr. Worth, whose long labours on the Dartmoor 
avenues give such importance to his opinions, objects 
to the astronomical use of those avenues because there 
are so many of them ; he informs me that he knows 
of 50 ; I think this objection may be considered less 
valid if the avenues show that they were dedicated 
to different uses, some practical and others sacred, at 
different times of the year. For instance, Challacombe 
is not a duplicate of Merrivale ; one is solstitial, the 
other deals with the May year ; and a complete 


examination of them I have only worked on the fringe 
may show other differences having the same bearing. 
In favour of the astronomical view it must be borne 
in mind that the results obtained in Devon and Corn- 
wall are remarkably similar, and the dates are roughly 
the same. Among the whole host of heaven from 
which objectors urge it is free for me to select any 
star I choose, at present only six stars have been con- 
sidered, two of which were certainly used, as in Egypt, 
as clock-stars as they just dipped below the northern 
horizon, and other two afterwards at Athens ; and these 
six stars are shown by nothing more recondite than an 
inspection of a precessional globe to have been precisely 
the stars, the " morning stars/' wanted by the priest- 
astronomers who wished to be prepared for the instant 
of sunrise at the critical points of the May or solstitial 


STANTON DREW (Lat. 51 10' N.) 

OTHER circles to which I have given some attention 
are at Stanton Drew in Somerset. I regret to say 
that I have not as yet had an opportunity of visiting 
them. But a cursory inspection on the Ordnance map 
of the possible sight-lines from circle to circle, for 
there are three, suggested at once that we were dealing 
with the same problem as that worked out, if some- 
what differently, at the Hurlers. 

The three circles, two avenues leading from two- 
of the circles towards the river, and some out- 
standing stones were most carefully surveyed by 
Mr. C. E. Dymond some years ago. He was good 
enough to send me copies of his plans and levelling 
sections. I have not had the advantage of perusing 
his memoir, but I have studied the monuments as 
well as I could by means of the 2 5 -inch Ordnance 
map. This, combined with an azimuth which Colonel 
Johnston, the Director-General of the Ordnance Survey, 
was kind enough to send me, should give me bearings, 
within a degree. 


I will begin by giving a short account of the stones 
which remain, abridged from the convenient pamphlet 
prepared for the British Association meeting at Bristol 
in 1898 by Prof. Lloyd Morgan. 

The circles at Stanton Drew, though far less imposing 
than those of Avebury and Stonehenge, are thought to 
be more ancient than are the latter, for the rough- 
hewn uprights and plinths of Stonehenge bear the 
marks of a higher and presumably later stage of 
mechanical development. Taken as a group, the 
Somersetshire circles are in some respects more com- 
plex than their better known rivals in Wiltshire. 
There are three circles, from two of which " avenues " 
proceed for a short distance in a more or less easterly 
direction ; there is a shattered but large dolmen if we 
may so regard the set of stones called " the cove " ; 
and there are outlying stones the " quoit," and those 
in Middle Ham which bear such relations to the 
circles as to suggest that they too formed parts of 
some general scheme of construction. 

From the photograph of the Ordnance map (Fig. 47) 
it will be seen, as pointed out by Prof. Lloyd Morgan, 

(1) That the centre of the great circle, that of the 
S.W. circle, and that of the quoit, are nearly in the 
same straight line. 

(2) That the cove, the centre of the great circle, 
and that of the N.E. circle, are nearly in the same 
straight line. 

The quoit, which generally means the covering 
stone of a cromlech " Hautville's Quoit," as it is 
named on the Ordnance map looms large in Stanton 
Drew tradition ; it is locally as much respected as the 

1 68 STONEHENGE CH. xvn 

circles themselves. It is pointed to most unmistakably 
by the fact that a line from it to the S.W. circle 
passes nearly through the centre of the great circle. 

If the observation line, then, meant anything 
astronomically, it can only have had to do with the 
rising of a star far to the north, in a position far more 
northerly than the sun ever reaches. 

The " quoit," lying in an orchard by the roadside, 
has nothing very impressive about its appearance a 
recumbent mass of greyish sandstone ; but it seems to 
be a brick in the Stanton Drew building. By some 
regarded as a sarsen block from Wiltshire, it is, in 
Prof. Lloyd Morgan's opinion, more probably derived 
from the Old Eed Sandstone of Mendip. In any case 
it is not, geologically speaking, in situ; nor has it 
reached its present position by natural agency. 

With regard to two of the megalithic circles, at first 
sight the constituent stones seem irregularly dotted 
about the field ; but as we approach them the un- 
evenly spaced stones group themselves. 

The material of which the greater number of the 
rude blocks is composed is peculiar and worthy of 
careful examination. It is a much altered rock con- 
sisting, in most of the stones, of an extremely hard 
siliceous breccia with angular fragments embedded in a 
red or deep brown matrix, and with numerous cavities 
which give it a rough slaggy appearance. Many of 
these hollows are coated internally with a jasper-like 
material, the central cavity being lined with gleaming 

The majority of the stones were probably brought 
from Harptree Ridge on Mendip, distant some six 

Fig. 47. The Circles and Avenues at Stanton Drew. Photograph of 25-inch 
Ordnance map, shewing approximate azimuths of sight-lines. 


miles. Weathered blocks of Triassic breccia, showing 
various stages of silicification, there lie on the surface ; 
and there probably lay the weathered monoliths which 
have been transported to Stauton Drew. It is im- 
portant to note that they were erected unhewn and 
untouched by the tool. A few stones are of other 
material sandstone, like the " quoit," or oolite from 

In the great circle, of the visible stones some retain 
their erect position, others are recumbent, several are 
partially covered by accumulation of grass-grown soil. 
Others are completely buried, their position being re- 
vealed in dry seasons by the withering of the grass 
above them. 

To the east of this circle a short avenue leads out, 
there being three visible stones and one buried block 
on the one hand, and two visible stones on the other. 
But one's attention is apt to be diverted from these to 
the very large and massive megaliths of the small N.E. 
circle. This is composed of eight weathered masses, 
one of which (if indeed it do not represent more than 
one), Prof. Lloyd Morgan tells us, is recumbent and 
shattered. From this circle, all the stones of which 
are of the siliceous breccia, a short avenue of small 
stones also opens out eastwards. 

The third or S.W. circle lies at some little distance 
from the others. The average size of the stones is 
smaller than in either of the other circles, and not all 
are composed of the same material. 

' The Cove," which has been variously regarded as a 
dolmen, a druidical chair of state, and a shelter for 
sacrificial fire, is -close to the church. 


The dimensions and numbers of the stones are as 
follow : 

Great circle, diameter 368 feet, 30 stones. 

N.E. 97 8 

S.W. 145 12 

As I was not able to visit Stanton Drew when the 
significance of the northerly alignments struck me, I 
made an appeal to Prof. Lloyd Morgan, of whose 
pamphlet I have so largely made use, to obtain some 
theodolite observations. As a result such observations 
have been made by himself and Mr. Morrow, from 
whom I have recently received a report with full 
permission to make use of it in this place. 

The monuments are not easy to measure, as the 
centres of the circles are not readily determined, as so 
many of the stones are either absent, recumbent or 



In my rough reading of the Ordnance map given 
in Fig. 47, I thought I might be guided by taking 
centres, such that the avenues would be aligned on 
them as at Stonehenge. I had not then seen the 
Dartmoor avenues, which in some cases are not 
aligned on the centres. In this it is possible that I 
was wrong, as both Mr. Dymond's and Mr. Morrow's 
observations suggest that the avenues are really of the 
Dartmoor pattern. Mr. Morrow w T rites : "The centres 
of the circles are (to a certain small extent) a matter 
of choice, a difference of a few minutes may easily 
occur. In dealing with the avenues a larger dis- 
crepancy may occur. I have taken what, in my 
opinion, Vas the best centre line of each avenue and 


thus determined its azimuth. But I believe that 
originally the southern line of stones forming each 
avenue was directed towards the centre of the corre- 
sponding circle, and that the avenue was then com- 
pleted by the erection of a parallel line of stones. A 
difference of a few degrees may thus be accounted for 
in the azimuth supposed to have been originally 
marked out." 

About Mr. Morrow's azimuths there can be no 
question. He writes : 

" The instruments used were, first, a 6" theodolite, 
and second, a 6" transit theodolite. The final results 
were obtained with the latter. It cannot be reversed 
when measuring elevations. I tested it very carefully 
for the adjustments of (a) line of collimation at right 
angles to the horizontal axis, (6) horizontal axis per- 
pendicular to vertical axis, and (c) line of collimation 
and spirit level parallel to each other. The instrument 
was in first-rate order, the error in elevation, for 
example, being within that corresponding to a slope of 
1 in 40,000; that is well within the limit of 20" to 
which vertical angles can be read. 

' : The meridian was obtained by two different methods 
applied several times, the results agreeing very closely. 
Readings of azimuths and altitude of sun were taken 
between three and four hours after noon, corrected 
for semi-diameter, &c., and the true bearing obtained 
with the aid of the latitude and the declination given 
in Nautical Almanac (corrected for time). 

"With regard to the elevations of the horizon, the 
existence of trees on or just below the sky-line renders 
readings to the nearest minute uncertain. In * all cases 


I have tried to give the most probable value, suppos- 
ing the trees to be absent. In some places the heights 
will have altered slightly during recent years owing 
to the construction of railways. 

" The values given are the means of observations. 
They are not corrected for height of instrument above 
ground, which might increase the angles by about 
5 mins. Trees on the sky-line appear to make a 
difference of some 35 mins." 

The azimuths as found by Mr. Morrow and myself 
are as under : 

Height of horizon, 
(excluding trees). 

Morrow. Lockyer*. Morrow. 

1 From centre of great circle to Haute- 

ville's quoit N. 17 59' E. 17 2 J 23' 

From centre of great circle to N.E. 

circle 53 0' 51 1 5' 

From centre of great circle along great 

circle avenue 68 43' 65 38' 

From centre of N.E. circle along N.E. 

circle avenue S. 83 52' E. 79 1 40' 

From centre of S.W. circle to centre 

of great circle 19 51' E. 20 1 44' 

The azimuths to which I first direct attention are 
these : 


Great circle to quoit . . . N. 17 E 
S.W. circle to great circle. . N. 20 E. 

These azimuths indicate that at Stanton Drew as at 

1 With regard to these values Mr. Morrow writes : "At present 
Hauteville's quoit is not visible from the centre of great circle. 
If the stone were erect, however, and any intervening trees and walls 
removed, the top of the stone would no doubt be within view. The 
Hauteville quoit line is thus rather a difficult one to obtain with 
accuracy, but the azimuth given should be correct to the nearest 


the Hurlers and elsewhere we are dealing with Arcturus 
as a clock-star. The facts are : 

Az. N. Decln. Height of hills. Star. Date. 

N. 17 E. 38 59' 0" 2 23' Arcturus 1690 

20 37 26' 50" 1 44' 1410 

One of the greatest differences between Mr. Morrow's 
local observation and my reading of the 2 5 -inch 
Ordnance map occurs in the case of the direction of 
the avenue from the great circle. It may be suggested 
that the use of this avenue was to observe the May 
and August sunrises of the May year. If we take the 
sun's decimation at 16 20' X., see p. 22, the azimuth 
should be about N. 64 E.; this is 1 from my value and 
5 from that given by Mr. Morrow, but it must not 
be forgotten that the choice of a day in May and 
August slightly differing from the normal date might 
easily produce such a variation. 

It seems probable that the great circle was one of 
the first erected, and the fact that, like Stonehenge, 
it had an avenue, but that, unlike Stonehenge, 
the avenue was directed towards the May and not 
the June (solstitial) sunrise further, I think, suggests 
that the May worship was considered the most import- 
ant and was the first provided for. 

There is reason for supposing that the great circle 
was at all events built before the S.W. one. The 
great circle is situated at a lower level than the S.W. 
one. The angular elevation of the hills over which 
Arcturus rose would appear, therefore, to be higher 
from the great than from the S.W. circle. Arcturus 
has been reducing its declination for centuries in con- 
sequence of the precessional movement. It would 

xvii STANTON DREW 175 

therefore rise gradually in a greater azimuth, that is, 
nearer the east. An observer in the centre of the 
great circle, to follow this more easterly rising over 
the quoit, would have to change his position gradually 
to the westward. But there was another way. The 
original direction could be nearly maintained if the 

o / 

observation were made at a higher level near the 
original line, as then the relative elevation of the rising- 
place would be reduced. 

This is what possibly was done, and this indeed may 
be the vera causa of the building of the S.W. circle. 

This view of the possible function of the "quoit" is, 
of course, strengthened by the fact that we find traces 
of high northerly alignment in other stone circles. I 
have already shown that there are such alignments in 

The " quoit " is nearly on a level with the great circle, 
while the hills rise behind it. It has been suggested 
that it would have been more useful on the top of the 
hill, but this suggestion cannot be accepted for a moment 
if it were used in the way I have indicated. On a 
dark night it would have been invisible, and it also 
would have prevented the observation of star-rise if it 
were truly aligned. Being comparatively near the circle 
it could easily have been illuminated at the critical 
time, and thus have anticipated the bright line micrometer 
of more modern times. 

So far I have found no obvious use for the avenue 
attached to the N.E. circle. The conditions are : 

Az. Height of Hills. Dec. 

Morrow. Lockyer. Morrow. Morrow. Lockyer. 

S. 83 52' E. S. 79 E. 1 40' 3 52' 30" S. 5 49' 30" S. 


With regard to this N.E. circle, in relation to the. 
large circle, the data are as follows : 

Az. Height of Hills. Dec. N. 

Morrow. Lockyer. Morrow. Morrow. Lockyer. 

N. 53 E. N. 51 E. 1 5' 22" 43' 50" 23 48' 46" 

As Mr. Morrow states, the choice of centre of the 
circle may alter the azimuth obtained by as much as 
" a few degrees," but the value obtained from the 
Ordnance map is, definitely, N. 51 E., and with the height 
of hills determined by Mr. Morrow this would suggest 
that the N.E. circle was really erected to provide the 
alignment, from the centre of the great circle, or from 
the Cove, to the summer solstitial sun, about the year 
870 B.C., Stockwell's values for the obliquity being taken. 
This result is the more striking as it gives a date for 
the substitution of the June for the May worship at 
Stanton Drew, which is in full accordance with that 
obtained for the similar change at Stenness. 

There is other evidence, to which I attach importance,, 
as it deals with a method and policy found in many 
temple fields in Egypt, that of blocking the alignment 
of an older star- or sun-cult, which the astronomer- 
priests replaced by their own. The stones of the avenue, 
of the solstitial N.E. circle I expect once blocked the May 
sunrise line from the great circle ; judging from the 
Ordnance map, and remembering the number of stones 
that have disappeared, this is probable if not certain. 

If this were so, then the N.E. circle was the last to 
be erected, and this suggestion is strengthened by Mr. 
Lewis's statement that it is the most perfect of the. 

Prof. Lloyd Morgan concludes his interesting account 

xvn STANTON DREW i 77 

of which I have made so much use with the following 


remarks : 

" In what order the circles were constructed w r e do 
not know. Whether the small N.E. circle with its more 
massive megaliths preceded or succeeded the great circle 
with its more numerous but, on the average, less massive 
stones, is a matter of mere conjecture. They may 
have been contemporaneous : bat it is more likely that 
so large a work took a long time in execution ; nor 
does the unity of plan of the final product preclude a 
gradual process of development. Finally as to the 
purpose of the erection, and its hidden astronomical, 
mythological, or social meaning (if it have one), we are 
once more at the mercy of more or less plausible con- 
jecture. There stand the circles in a quiet Somersetshire 

v * 

valley, silent memorials of a race concerning whose 
modes of life, of labour, and of thought we can but 

It is to be hoped that before the monument has dis- 
appeared like so many of its fellows, some student with 
more knowledge and time to devote to the inquiry than 
myself will endeavour to answer more of the questions 
raised by it. 



WE have so far considered the circles at Stonehenge, 
Stenness, the Hurlers and Stanton Drew, and the avenues 
in Brittany and on Dartmoor. Before I refer to my later 
work in the south-west of England or attempt to present 
a summary of the results of the inquiry, I think it will 
be convenient to turn for a time to another branch of it, 
for that there is another closely connected series of facts to 
be considered in relation to the monuments folklore and 
tradition abundantly prove. 

So far in this book I have dealt chiefly with stones as 
I hold, associated with, or themselves composing, sanc- 
tuaries. We have become acquainted with circles, men- 
hirs, dolmens, altars, vise sacrse, various structures built 
up of stones. Barrows and ear them banks represented 
them later. 

The view which I have been led to bring forward so far 
is that these structures had in one way or another to do 
with the worship of the sun and stars ; that they had for 
the most part an astronomical use in connection with 
religious ceremonials. 

The next question which concerns us in an attempt to 


get at the bottom of the matter is to see whether there 
are any concomitant phenomena, and, if there be any, to 
classify them and study the combined results. 

Tradition and folklore, which give dim references to the 
ancient uses of the stones, show in most unmistakable 
fashion that the stones were not alone ; associated with 
them almost universally were many practices referred to 
on p. 26, such as the lighting of fires, passing through 
them, and dancing round them ; in the neighbourhood of 
. the stones and associated with the fire practices were also 
sacred trees and sacred wells or streams. 

Folklore and tradition not only thus may help us, but 
I think they will be helped by such a general survey, 
brief though it must be. So far as my reading has gone 
each special tradition has been considered by itself; there 
has been no general inquiry having for its object the study 
of the possible origin and connection of many of the 
ancient practices and ideas which have so dimly come 
down to us in many cases and which we can only com- 
pletely reconstruct by piecing together the information 
derived from various sources. 

I now propose to refer to all these matters with the 
view of seeing whether there be any relation between 
practices apparently disconnected in so many .cases if we 
follow the literature in which they are chronicled. We 
must not blame the literature, since the facts which remain 
to be recorded now here, now there, are but a small 
fraction of those that have been forgotten. Fortunately, 
the practices forgotten in one locality have been remembered 
in another, so that it is possible the picture can be restored 
more completely than one might have thought at first. 

It will be seen at once that from the point of view with 

N 2 


which we are at present concerned, one of the chief rela- 
tions we must look for is that of time, seeing that my 
chief affirmation with regard to the stone monuments is 
that they were used for ceremonial purposes at certain 
seasons, those seasons being based first upon the agricul- 
tural, and later upon the astronomical divisions of the year, 
to which I drew attention in Chapter III. In Chapter IV., 
when referring to the agricultural and astronomical new 
years' days, I indicated a possible relation between the 
temple worship and the floral celebrations of that time, 
and later on (p. 40), in connection with the monuments 
in Brittany, I pointed out the coincidence of fire customs 
at the same time of the year. 

But in a matter of this kind it will not do to depend 
upon isolated cases ; the general trend of all the facts 
available along several lines of inquiry must be found and 
studied, first separately and then inter se, if any final 
conclusion is to be reached. 

This is what I now propose to do in a very summary 
manner. It is not my task to arrange the facts of folk- 
lore and tradition, but simply to cull from the available 
sources precise statements which bear upon the questions 
before us. These statements, I think, may be accepted as 
trustworthy, and all the more so as many of the various 
recorders have had no idea either of the existence of a May 
year at all or of the connection between the different 
classes of the phenomena which ought to exist if my 
theory of their common origin in connection with ancient 
worship and the monuments is anywhere near the truth. 

This question of time relations is surrounded by diffi- 

I gave in Fig. 7 the Gregorian dates of the beginning 


of the quarters of the May year, if nothing but the sun's 
declination of 16 20' N. or S., four times in its yearly 
path, be considered. These were : 

May Greek Roman 

Year. Calendar. Calendar. 

End of Winter ) 4 _ 

Beginning of Spring j 

Summer May 6 ... May 6 ... May 9 

Aug. 8 Aug. 11 Auor. 8 

End of Summer ) 

Beginning of Autumn j 

Winter Nov. 8 ... Nov. 10 ... Nov. 9 

In the table I also give, for comparison, the dates in the 
Greek and Roman calendars (p. 20). 

There is no question that on or about the above days 
festivals were anciently celebrated in these islands ; possibly 
not all at all holy places, but some at one and some at 
another ; this, perhaps, may help to explain the varia- 
tion in the local traditions and even some of the group- 
ings of orientations. 

The earliest information on this point conies from 

Cormac, Archbishop of Cashel in the tenth century, 
states, according to Vallancey, that " in his time four 
great fires were lighted up on the four great festivals 
of the Druids, viz., in February, May, August and 
November." l 

I am not aware of any such general statement as early 

as this in relation to the four festivals of the May year 

in Great Britain, but in spite of its absence the fact 

. is undoubted that festivals were held, and many various 

forms of celebration used, during those months. 

1 Hazlitt, Dictionary of Faiths and Folklore, under Gule of August. 


From the introduction of Christianity attempts of 
different kinds were made to destroy this ancient time 
system and to abolish the so-called " pagan " worships 
and practices connected with it. Efforts were made to- 
change the date and so obliterate gradually the old 
traditions ; another way, and this turned out to be the 
more efficacious, was to change the venue of the festival, 
so to speak, in favour of some Christian celebration or 
saint's day. The old festivals took no account of week- 
days, so it was ruled that the festivals were to take 
place on the first day of the week ; later on some of 
them were ruled to begin on the first day of the 

When Easter became a movable feast, the efforts of 
the priests were greatly facilitated, and indeed it would 
seem as if this result of such a change was not absent 
from the minds of those who favoured it. 

The change of style was, as I have before stated, a 
fruitful source of confusion, and this was still further 
complicated by another difficulty. Piers 1 tells us that 
consequent upon the change " the Roman Catholics light 
their fires by the new style, as the correction originated 
from a pope ; and for that very same reason the 
Protestants adhere to the old." 

I will refer to each of the festivals and their changes 
of date. 

February 4. 

Before the movable Easter the February festival had 
been transformed into Ash Wednesday (February 4). 
The eve of the festival was Shrove Tuesday, and it is 

1 Survey of the South of Ireland, p. 232. 


quite possible that the ashes used by the priests on 
Wednesday were connected with the bonfires of the 
previous night. 

It would seem that initially the festival, with its 
accompanying bonfire, was transferred to the first 
Sunday in Lent, February 8. 

I quote the following from Hazlitt l : 

" Durandus, in his ' Rationale,' tells us, Lent was 
counted to begin on that which is now the first Sunday 
in Lent, and to end on Easter Eve ; which time, saith 
he, containing forty-two days, if you take out of them 
the six Sundays (on which it was counted not lawful 
at any time of the year to fast), then there will remain 
only thirty-six days : and, therefore, that the number 
of days which Christ fasted might be perfected, Pope 
Gregory added to Lent four days of the week before- 
going, viz., that which we now call Ash Wednesday, 
and the three days following it. So that we see the 
first observation of Lent began from a superstitious, 
unwarrantable, and indeed profane, conceit of imitating 
Our Saviour's miraculous abstinence. Lent is so called 
from the time of the year wherein it is observed : Lent 
in the Saxon language signifying Spring." 

Whether this be the origin of the lenten fast or not 
it is certain that the connection thus established be- 
tween an old pagan feast and a new Christian one is 
very ingenious : 24 days in February plus 22 days in 
March (March 22 being originally the fixed date for 
Easter) gives us 46 days (6 x 7) + 4, and from the point 
of view of priestcraft the result was eminently satis- 
factory, for thousands of people still light fires on 
1 Under Ash Wednesday. 


Shrove Tuesday or on the first Sunday of Lent, whether 
those days occur in February or March. They are 
under the impression that they are doing homage to a 
church festival, and the pagan origin is entirely for- 
gotten not only by them but even by those who 
chronicle the practices as "Lent customs." 

Finally, after the introduction of the movable Easter, 
the priests at Koine, instead of using the " pagan " ashes 
produced on the eve of the first Sunday in Lent or Ash 
Wednesday in each year, utilised those derived from 
the burning of the palms used on Palm Sunday of the 
year before. 

Further steps were taken to conceal from future 
generations the origin of the " pagan " custom due on 
February 4. February 3 was dedicated to St. " Blaze." 
How well this answered is shown by the following- 
quotation from Percy. 2 " The anniversary of St. Blazeus 
is the 3rd February, when it is still the custom in 
many parts of England to light up fires on the hills on 
St. Blayse night : a custom antiently taken up perhaps 
for no better reason than the jingling resemblance of 
his name to the word Blaze." 

This even did not suffice. A great candle church festival 
was established on February 2. This was called " Candle- 
mas," and Candlemas is still the common name of the 
beginning of the Scotch legal year. In the Cathedral of 
Durham when Cosens was bishop he " busied himself from 
two of the clocke in the afternoone till foure, in climbing 
long ladders to stick up wax candles in the said Cathedral 
Church ; the number of all the candles burnt that evening 


1 Frazer, Golden Bough, iii., 238 et seq. 

2 Notes to Northumberland Household Book, 1770, p. 333. 


was 220, besides 16 torches; 60 of those burning tapers 
and torches standing upon and near the high altar." l 

There is evidence that the pagan fires at other times of 
the year were also gradually replaced by candles in the 

May 6. 

The May festival has been treated by the Church in the 
same way as the February one. With a fixed Easter Sun- 
day on March 22, 46 days after brought us to a Thursday 
(May 7), hence Holy Thursday 2 and Ascension Day. With 
Easter movable there of course was more confusion. Whit 
Sunday, the Feast of Pentecost, was only nine days after 
Holy Thursday, and it occurred, in some years, on the 
same day of the month as Ascension Day in others. In 
Scotland the festival now is ascribed to Whit Sunday. 

It is possibly in consequence of this that the festival 
before even the change of style was held on the 1st of the 

In Cornwall, where the celebrations still survive, the 
day chosen is May 8. 

August 8. 

For the migrations of the dates of the " pagan " festival 
in the beginning of August from the 1st to the 1 2th, 
migrations complicated by the old and new style, I refer to 

1 Quoted by Hazlitt. 

2 Much confusion has arisen with regard to the Holy Thursday in 
Rogation week because there is another Holy or Maundy Thursday 
in Easter week. Archaeologists have also been often misled by the 
practice of many writers of describing the May festivals as midsummer 
festivals. The first of May, of course, marked the beginning of 


Prof. Rhys' Hibbert Lectures, p. 418, in which work a full 
account of the former practices in Ireland and "Wales is 
given. The old festival in Ireland was associated with 
Lug, a form of the Sun-God ; the most celebrated one was. 
held at Tailetin. This feast Lugnassad was changed 
into the church celebration Lammas, from A.S. hl'dfmaesse 
that is loaf-mass or bread-mass, so named as a mass or 
feast of thanksgiving for the first fruits of the corn harvest. 
The old customs in Wales and the Isle of Man included 
the ascent of hills in the early morning, but so far I have 
found no record of fires in connection with this date. 1 

November 8. 

The facts that November 11 is quarter day in Scotland,, 
that mayors are elected on or about that date, show, I think, 
pretty clearly that we are here dealing with the old 
" pagan " date. 

The fact that the Church anticipated it by the feast of 
All Souls' on November 1 reminds us of what happened 
in the case of the February celebration ; later I give a, 
reference to the change of date ; and perhaps this date 
was also determined by the natural gravitation to the first 
of the month, as in the case of May, and because it marked 
at one time the beginning of the Celtic year. 

But what seems quite certain is that the feast which 
should have been held on November 8 on astronomical 
grounds was first converted by the Church into the 
feast of St. Martin on November 11. The Encyclopedia 
Britannica tells us : " The feast of St. Martin 
(Martinmas) took the place of an old pagan festival,. 

1 Mr. Frazer informs me that the 1 3th August was Diana's day at: 
Nemi and there was a fire festival. 


and inherited some of its usages, such as the Martins- 
mannchen, Martinsfeuer, Martinshorn, and the like, in 
various parts of Germany." 

St. Martin lived about A.D. 300. As the number of 
saints increased, it became impossible to dedicate a 
feast-day to each. Hence it was found expedient to 
have an annual aggregate commemoration of such as 
had not special days for themselves. So a church 
festival " All Hallows," or " Hallo wmass," was instituted 
about A.D. 610 in memory of the martyrs, and it was 
to take place on May 1. For some reason or another 
this was changed in A.D. 834 ; May was given up, 
and the date fixed as November 1. This was a com- 
memoration of all the saints, so we get the new name 
"All Saints' Day." 

There can be little doubt that the intention of the 
Church was to anticipate, and therefore gradually to 
obliterate the pagan festival still held at Martinmas, 
and it has been successful in many places. In Ireland, 
for instance ; at Samhain, 1 November 1, " the proper 
time for prophecy and the unveiling of mysteries. "... 
It was then that fire was lighted at a place called 
after Mog Ruith's daughter Tlachtga. From Tlachtga 
all the hearths in Ireland are said to have been 
annually supplied, just as the Lemnians had once a 
year to put their fires out and light them anew 
from that brought in the sacred ship from Delos. The 
habit of celebrating Nos Galan-galaf in Wales by 
lighting bonfires on the hills is possibly not yet extinct. 

Here, then, we find the pagan fires transferred from 
the 8th to the 1st of November in Ireland, but in 

1 Rhys Hibbert Lectures, p. 514. 


the Isle of Man this is not so. I will anticipate 
another reference to Khys by stating that Martinmas 
had progressed from the llth to the 24th before the 
change of style brought it back, " old Martinmas," 
November 24, being one of the best recognised " old 
English holidays," "old Candlemas" being another, at 
the other end of the May year ; this last had slipped 
from February 2 to February 15 before it was put 
back again. 

With regard to the Isle of Man Rhys writes 1 that 
the feast is there called Hollantide, and is kept on 
November 12, a reckoning w T hich he states " is according 
to the old style." The question is, are we not dealing 
here with the Martinmas festival not antedated to 
November 1 ? He adds, " that is the day when the 
tenure of land terminates, and when serving men go 
to their places. In other words it is the beginning 
of a new year." This is exactly what happens in 
Scotland, and the day is still called Martinmas. 

There is a custom in mid-England which strikingly 
reminds us of the importance of Martinmas in relation 
to old tenures, if even the custom does not carry us 
still further back. This is the curious and interesting 
ceremony of collecting the wroth silver, due and 
payable to his Grace the Duke of Buccleuch and 
Queensbury on " Martinmas Eve," The payment is 
made on an ancient mound on the summit of Knightlow 
Hill, about five miles out of Coventry, and in the 
parish of Ryton-on-Dunsmore. One feature about this 
singular ceremonial is that it must take place before 

1 Celtic Folklore, p. 315. 



THE magnificent collection of facts bearing on tins 
subject which has been brought together by Mr. Frazer 
in The Golden Bough renders it unnecessary for me 
to deal with the details of this part of my subject at 
any great length. 

We have these records of fires : - 

(1) In February, May, August and November of the 
original May year. 

(2) In June and December on the longest and short- 
est days of the solstitial year, concerning which there 
could not be, and has not been, any such change of date 
as has occurred in relation to the May year festivals. 

(3) A fire at Easter, in all probability added not long 
before or at the introduction of Christianity. I find no 
traces of a fire festival at the corresponding equinox 
in September. 

We learn from Cormac that the fires were generally 
double and that cattle were driven between them. 

Concerning this question of fire, both Mr. Frazer and 
the Kev. S. Baring-Gould 1 suggest that we are justified 

1 Strange Survivals, p. 120 et seq. 


in considering the Christian treatment of the sacred 
fire as a survival of pagan times. Mr. Baring-Gould 
writes as follows : " When Christianity became domin- 
ant, it was necessary to dissociate the ideas of the 
people from the central fire as mixed up with the old 

o-ods ; at the same time the central fire was an 


absolute need. Accordingly the Church was converted 
into the sacred depository of the perpetual fire." 

He further points out that there still remain in some 
of our churches (in Cornwall, York, and Dorset) the 
contrivances now called cresset-stones used. They 
are blocks of stone with cups hollowed out. Some are 
placed in lamp-niches furnished with flues. On these 
he remarks (p. 122) : 

" Now although these lamps and cressets had their 
religious signification, yet this religious signification 
was an afterthought. The origin of them lay in the 
necessity of there being in every place a central light, 
from which light could at any time be borrowed ; and 
the reason why this central light was put in the church 
was to dissociate it from the heathen ideas attached 
formerly to it. As it was, the good people of the 
Middle Ages were not quite satisfied with the central 
church fire, and they had recourse in times of emer- 
gency to other, and as the Church deemed them 
unholy, fires. When a plague and murrain appeared 
among cattle, then they lighted need-fires from two 
pieces of dry wood, and drove the cattle between the 
flames, believing that this new flame was wholesome 
to the purging away of the disease. For kindling the 
need-fires the employment of flint and steel was for- 
bidden. The fire was only efficacious when extracted 



in prehistoric fashion, out of wood. The lighting of 
these need-fires was forbidden by the Church in the 
eighth century. What shows that this need-fire was 
distinctly heathen is that in the Church new fire was 
obtained at Easter annually by striking flint and steel 
together. It was supposed that the old fire in a 
twelvemonth had got exhausted, or perhaps that all 
light expired with Christ, and that new fire must be 
obtained. Accordingly the priest solemnly struck new 
fire out of flint and steel. But fire from flint and 
steel was a novelty ; and the people, Pagan at heart, 
had no confidence in it, and in time of adversity went 
back to the need-fire kindled in the time-honoured way 
from wood by friction, before this new-fangled way of 
drawing it out of stone and iron was invented." 

The same authority informs us that before Christianity 
was introduced into Ireland by St. Patrick there was a 
temple at Tara " where fire burned ever, and was on no 
account suffered to go out." 

Mr. Frazer, 1 quoting Cerbied, shows that in the 
ancient religion of Armenia the new fire was kindled 
at the February festival of the May year, in honour of 
the fire-god Mihr. " A bonfire was made in a public 
place, and lamps kindled at it were kept burning 
throughout the year in each of the fire-god's temples." 
This festival now takes place at Candlemas, February 2. 

We must assume, then, that the pagan fires were pro- 
duced by the friction of dry wood, and possibly in con- 
nection with an ever-burning fire. In either case the 
priests officiating at the various circles must have had 
a place handy where the wood was kept dry or the 
1 Golden Bough, iii. 248. 


fire kept burning, and on this ground alone we may 
again inquire whether such structures as Maeshowe at 
the Stenness circle, the Fougou at that of the Merry 
Maidens, and indeed chambered barrows and cairns 
generally, were not used for these purposes amongst 
others ; whether indeed they were not primarily built 
for the living and not for the dead, and whether -this 
will explain the finding of traces of fires and of hollowed 
stones in them, as well as some points in their structure. 
Mr. Mac-Ritchie l has brought together several of these 
points, among them fireplaces and flues for carrying 
away smoke. 

At both solstices it would appear that a special fire- 
rite was practised. This consisted of tying straw on a 
wheel and rolling it when lighted down a hill. There 
is much evidence for the wheel at the summer, but 
less at the winter, solstice ; still, we learn from the old 
Runic fasti that a wheel was used to denote the 
festival of Christmas. With regard to the summer 
solstice I quote the following from Hazlitt (under 
John, St.) : 

" Durandus, speaking of the rites of the Feast of 
St. John Baptist, informs us of this curious circum- 
stance, that in some places they roll a wheel about to 
signify that the sun, then occupying the highest place 
in the Zodiac, is beginning to descend. ' Rotam quoque 
hoc die in quibusdam locis volvunt, ad significandum 
quod Sol altissimum tune locum in Crelo occupet, et 
descendere incipiat in Zodiaco.' Harl. MSS. 2345 (on 
vellum), Art. 100, is an account of the rites of St. John 
Baptist's Eve, in which the wheel is also mentioned. 

1 The Testimony of Tradition. 



In the amplified account of these ceremonies given by 
Naogeorgus, we read that this wheel was taken up to 
the top of a mountain and rolled down thence ; and 
that, as it had previously been covered with straw, 
twisted about it and set on fire, it appeared at a 
distance as if the sun had been falling from the sky. 
And -he further observes, that the people imagine that 
all their ill-luck rolls away from them together with 
this wheel. At Norwich, says a writer in Current Notes 
for March, 1854, the rites of St. John the Baptist were 
anciently observed, ' when it was the custom to turn or 
roll a wheel about, in signification of the sun's annual 
course, or the sun, then occupying the highest place in 
the Zodiac, was about descending.' ' : 

At Magdalen College, Oxford, the May and June 
years are clearly differentiated. There is a vocal service 
at sunrise on May morning, followed by boys blowing 
horns. At the summer solstice there is a sermon preached 
during the day in the quadrangle. 

One of the most picturesque survivals of this ancient 
custom takes place at Florence each year at Easter. 
This is fully described by Baring-Gould. The moment 
the sacred fire is produced at the high altar a dove 
(in plaster) carries it along a rope about '200 yards 
long to a car in the square outside the west door of 
the cathedral and sets fire to a fuse, thus causing the 
explosion of fireworks. 

The car with its explosives is the survival of the 
ancient bonfire. 

It would appear that the lighting of these fires on a 
large scale lingered longest in Ireland and Brittany. 

A correspondent of the Gentleman's Magazine 




.(February, 1795) thus describes the Irish Beltane fires 
in 1782, "the most singular sight in Ireland" : 

"Exactly at midnight, the fires .began to appear, 
and taking the advantage of going up to the leads of 
the house, which had a widely extended view, I saw 
on a radius of thirty miles, all around, the fires 
burning on every eminence which the country afforded. 

I had a farther satisfac- 
tion in learning, from un- 
doubted authority, that 
the people danced round 
the fires, and at the close 
went through these fires, 
and made their sons and 
daughters, together with 
their cattle, pass through 
the fire ; and the whole 
was conducted with re- 
ligious solemnity." 

It will have been ob- 

served with reference to 
these fire festivals that 
although there were un- 
doubtedly four, in May, 
August, November and 

February, those in May and November were more 
important than the others. This no doubt arose from 
the fact that at different times the May and November 
celebrations were New Year festivals. With regard to 
the New Year in November in Celtic and later times, 
Ehys writes as follows (Hibbert Lectures, p. 514) : 
" The Celts were in the habit formerly of counting 

FIG. 48. The Carro, Florence. From 
Baring-Gould's Strange Survivals. 


winters, and of giving precedence in their reckoning 
to night and winter over day and summer (p. 360) ; I 
.should argue that . the last day of the year in the 
Irish story of Diarmait's death meant the eve of 
November or All-halloween, the night before the Irish 
Samhain, and known in Welsh as Nos Galan-gaeaf, 
or the Night of the Winter Calends. But there is no 
occasion to rest on this alone, as we have the evidence 
of Cormac's Glossary that the month before the 
beginning of winter was the last month ; so that the 
first day of the first month of winter was also the 
first day of the year." 

That the November bonfire was recognised as herald- 
ing the dominion of the gods and spirits of darkness, 1 
that the old ideas surrounding Horus and Set in 
Egypt were not forgotten, is evidenced by the fact 
that when it was extinct the whole company round it 
would suddenly take to their heels, shouting at the 
top of their voices : 

Yr hwch du gwta 
A gipio 'r ola' ! 

The cropped black sow 
Seize the hindmost ! 

A piecing together of the folklore and traditions of 
'different districts suggests that sacrifices were made 
in connection with the fire festivals, in fact that the 
fire at one of the critical times of the May year at least 
was a sacrificial one. 

I will quote two cases given by Gomme 2 for May 
Day and All Souls' Day respectively : 

" At the village of Holne, situated on one of the 
spurs of Dartmoor, is a field of about two acres, the 

1 Hibbert Lectures, p. 516 ; Dawn of Astronomy, p. 215. 

2 Ethnology in Folklore, pp. 32 and 163. 

o 2 


property of the parish, and called the Ploy Field. In 
the centre of this field stands a granite pillar (Menhir) 
six or seven feet high. On May-morning, before day- 
break, the young men of the village used to assemble 
there, and then proceed to the moor, where they 
selected a ram lamb, and after running it down, 
brought it in triumph to the Ploy Field, fastened it 
to the pillar, cut its throat and then roasted it whole, 
skin, wool, &c. At midday a struggle took place, at 
the risk of cut hands, for a slice, it being supposed 
to confer luck for the ensuing year on the fortunate 
devourer. As an act of gallantry the young men 
sometimes fought their way through the crowd to 
get a slice for the chosen amongst the young women, 
all of whom, in their best dresses, attended the Earn 
Feast, as it was called. Dancing, wrestling, and other 
games, assisted by copious libations of cider during the 
afternoon, prolonged the festivity till midnight." 

In the parish of King's Teignton, Devonshire, " a 
lamb is drawn about the parish on Whitsun Monday 
in a cart covered with garlands of lilac, laburnum and 
other flowers, w r hen persons are requested to give 
something towards the animal and attendant expenses ; 
on Tuesday it is then killed and roasted whole in the 
middle of the village. The lamb is then sold in slices 
to the poor at a cheap rate." 

The popular legend concerning the origin of this 
custom introduces two important elements a reference 
to "heathen days" and the title of "sacrifice" ascribed 
to the killing of the lamb (p. 31). 

" At St. .Peter's, Athlone, every family of a village 
on St. Martin's Day kills an animal of some kind or 


other ; those who are rich kill a cow or sheep, others 
a goose or turkey, while those who are poor kill a 
hen or cock ; with the blood of the animal they sprinkle 
the threshold and also the four corners of the house, 
and ' this performance is done to exclude every kind 
of evil spirit from the dwelling where the sacrifice is 
made till the return of the same day the following 
year'" (p. 163). 

Other traditions indicate that human sacrifices were 
in question, and that lots were drawn, or some other 
method of the choice of a victim was adopted. I quote 
from Hazlitt (i., 44) the following report of the Minister 
of Callender in 1794 : 

" The people of this district have two customs, which 
are fast wearing out, not only here, but all over the 
Highlands, and therefore ought to be taken notice of, 
while they remain. Upon the first day of May, which 
is called Beltan, or Bal-tein-day, all the boys in a 
township or hamlet meet in the moors. They cut a 
table in the green sod, of a round figure, by casting a 
trench in the ground of such a circumference as to hold 
the whole company. They kindle a fire, and dress a 
repast of eggs and milk in the consistence of a custard. 
They knead a cake of oatmeal, which is toasted at the 
embers against a stone. After the custard is eaten 
up, they divide the cake into so many portions, as 
similar as possible to one another in size and shape, 
as there are persons in the company. They daub one 
of these portions all over with charcoal, until it be 
perfectly black. They put all the bits of the cake 
into a bonnet. Everyone, blindfold, draws out a 
portion. He who holds the bonnet is entitled to the 


last bit. Whoever draws the black bit is the devoted 
person, who is to be sacrificed to Baal, whose favour 
they mean to implore in rendering the year productive 
of the sustenance of man and beast. There is little 
doubt of these inhuman sacrifices having been once 
offered in this country as well as in the East, although, 
they now pass from the act of sacrificing, and only 
compel the devoted person to leap three times through 
the flames ; with which the ceremonies of the festival 
are closed." 

I may conclude this chapter by referring to similar- 
practices in Brittany, where Baring-Gould l has so* 
successfully studied them. 

The present remnants of the old cult in the different, 
parishes are now called " pardons " ; 2 they are still 
numerous. I give those for the May and August festivals, 
(p. 83). 


Ascension Day Bodilis, Penhars, Spezet (at the well o' 

S. Gouzenou), Landevennec, Plbui- 

Sunday after Ascension Day. Tregoat, S. Divy. 

Whit Sunday Kernilis ; Plouider ; Edern - r Coray > 

Spezet (Chapel of Cran). 

Whit Monday Quimperle (Pardon des Oiseaux) ; Ponfe 

1'Abbe (Pardon des Enfants) ; Ergue- 
Armel, La Foret, Landudal, Ploneis,. 
Landeleau, Carantec. 

Whit Thursday Gouezec (Les Fontaines). 

1 A Book of Brittany. 

1 These " pardons " run strangely parallel with the " Feast Days "" 
in E. and W. Penrith, in Cornwall, where of 26 feasts, 13 occur 
around the chief days of the May year. 



1st Sunday in August. . . Pleyben (horse races) ; Plebannalec ; 

Pouldreuzic ; Plougomelin ; Huelgoet ; 
S. Nicodeme in Plumeliau (M.) 
(Cattle blessed ; second day horse 
fair, and girls sell their tresses to 
hair merchants). 

Judging by the " pardons," the solstitial celebrations 
are not so numerous as those connected with the May 
year ; the bonfire is built up by the head of a family 
in which the right is hereditary. The fire has to be 
lighted only by a pure virgin, and the sick and feeble 
are carried to the spot, as the bonfire flames are held 
to be gifted with miraculous healing powers. 

When the flames are abated, stones are placed for 
the souls of the dead to sit there through the remainder 
of the night and enjoy the heat. " Every member of 
the community carries away a handful of ashes as a 
sovereign cure for sundry maladies. The whole pro- 
ceeding is instinct with paganism" (p. 75). With 
regard to the accompanying sacrifices we read : "In 
ancient times sacrifices were made of cocks and oxen 
at certain shrines now they are still presented, but it 
is to the chapels of saints. S. Herbot receives cow's 
tails, and these may be seen heaped upon his altar 
in Loqeflret. At Coadret as many as seven hundred 
are offered on the day of the "pardon." At S. Nicolas- 
des-Eaux, it is S. Nicodemus who in his chapel receives 
gifts of whole oxen, and much the same takes place at 


THE subject of tree- worship is a vast one, as anyone 
may gather who will read the Golden Bough. Fortunately 
for my readers it is not necessary to discuss the whole 
or even any great part of it in connection with the 
inquiry which now concerns us. I may say that only 
rarely is the old tree-worship considered with its con- 
comitant of temple-worship, so that I now have to 
bring together information widely separated because the 
connection which I have to show was intimate has not 
been enlarged upon ; indeed, in many cases it has not 
been suspected. 

There is another limitation of the inquiry. We have 
only to deal chiefly with those plants and trees recorded 
as worshipped at the chief festival times of the year, 
which have already been marked out for us by the fire 
ceremonials. These fires were like the chronofer installed 
in modern days at the General Post Office, their practical 
function being to give the time ; they announced the begin- 
ning of a new season. 


In Chapter IV. I referred to the association of 
Mistletoe with the Solstitial worship. When we deal 
with the May year we meet constantly with references 
to the Rowan and the Hawthorn in the folklore con- 
nected with it. AVe seem in presence, then, not only 
of tree cult generally, but of sacred trees special to each 
of the two worships we have been considering. I 
propose now, therefore, to bring together some of the 
information to be gathered from a very cursory reference 
to the vast literature which exists on the subject. 

In the first instance I begged my friend, Professor 
Bayley Balfour, Keeper of the King's Garden at Edin- 
burgh, to give me some particulars of the Rowan Tree, 
which I imagined (1) to have been chosen on account of its 
flowers being prominent about May Day (Beltane) and its 
berries in early November (Hallowe'en), and (2) to have a 
different habitat from the Mistletoe. I have to thank my 
friend for much valuable information. 

The Rowan Tree, called also the Mountain Ash (Pyrus 
Aueuparia), seems to grow pretty freely all over the 
Northern parts of Europe. Professor Balfour tells me : 
" Rowan is essentially a Northern plant an immigrant 
to Europe from N.AV. Asia and now is spread all over 
North and Central Europe in abundance, with only some 
* feelers ' passing south into the Mediterranean Basin. 
It does not go south of Cappadocia in Asia Minor. 
It does not reach Greece. In Italy it occurs on the 
Eastern Apennines, and also in N.E. Sicily. In Spain 
it runs over the higher regions in the N. and into the 
centre, passing just into Portugal. Its occurrence in 
Madeira . is not certainly established as a natural pheno- 
menon ; perhaps it is only introduced there. In all 



these Southern outruns the tree cannot be said to have 
any dominance, and its area and abundance are infinitely 
less than in the North. Scandinavia is one of its best 
homes. Everywhere it is found right north to 71, 
there becoming a bush only, but yet ripening seed. It 
reaches Iceland, where trees of some size occur. All 
over Great Britain and Ireland it is generally spread. 
You may certainly say there is much in Norway, and 
there is equally certainly less, even little, in Italy." 

In Pratt's Flowering Plants of Great Britain (vol. 2, 
p. 260) it is stated, " The flowers, which grow in dense 

clusters, and are greenish- white, appear in May 

In autumn, however, the tree is more beautiful than in 
summer, for at that season the rich cluster of red fruits 
gleams among the foliage, each berry having the form of 
a tiny apple, and containing a little core and seeds 

At Christiania the mean of ten years' flowering is 
given by Professor Schiibeler J as first flowers, June 1 9 ; 
general flowering. June 30. This, then, is later than 
in Britain. On high grounds the fruit is conspicuous 
here on November 1 ; on lower levels the birds attack 
it and reduce its striking appearance before that date. 

Associated with the Rowan in the folklore connected with 
temple worship is the Hawthorn, Whitethorn or " May " 
(Crategus oxyocantha), which also flowers at the begin- 
ning of May, while its berries or " haws," like those of the 
Rowan, are conspicuous in November. We see, then, that 
there is a most obvious reason in this for the association 
of the two trees. According to Rhys, 2 the English 

1 Schiibeler, Die Pflanzenwelt Norwegens, Christiania, 1873-75, 
P- 439. 2 ffibbert Lectures, p. 358. 



name appears to be of Scandinavian origin, the Old 
Norse being reynir, Danish ronne, Swedish ronn ; and 
the old Norsemen treated the tree as holy and sacred 
to Thor. 

These two trees interest us from three points of 
view. We find them connected with : 

1. May and November celebrations. 

2. Superstitions concerning witchcraft, &c. 

3. Holy wells. 

In this chapter I shall deal with the tw T o former. 

I. The May Celebrations. 

Seeing that the year beginning in May was established 
because that month really opened the vegetation year, 
it is little to be wondered at that among the chief 
features of New Year's Day was what we may term a 
flower worship ; it is probable that we are here deal- 
ing with the sacred-tree side of the general festival 
at all the monuments erected in connection with the 
May year worship. The old traditions have lingered 
longest around the things we have still with us, the 
trees and flowers ; and it is in connection with this 
side of the worship that most information is available. 
From the facts I have already stated, for Britain the 
Rowan and Hawthorn were most naturally selected as 
the typical forms. 1 

Many poets have written of this festival 2 : Chaucer, 

1 The Rowan had to be cut on Ascension Day, Golden Bough, III,, 
p. 448. 

2 Pratt's British Flowering Plants, vol. 2, p. 266. 


Shakspere, Milton, Bourne, Herrick and others. Chaucer 

writes : 

" Fourth goeth al the Court both most and lest, 
To fetch the flouris fresh and branche and blome," 

when not the courtiers only, but lowliest of men and 
maidens sallied forth 

" To do observaunce to a morn of May." 

There is a vast literature connected with May Day 
celebrations, among it references to Celtic customs, and 
I may add that, besides May Day, August, November and 
February had their flower festivals also. I shall, however, 
deal chiefly with May in this book to keep it within bounds. 

May Day in Manx was termed Shenn Laa Boaldyn ; 
it is the belltaine of Cormac's Glossary, the Scotch 
Gaelic equivalent of which is bealtuinn. 

The traditions and customs connected with May 
Day in Great Britain have survived longest in the West 
of England ; even now, as will be seen by the account 
of recent celebrations at Helston in Cornwall, given 
below, they are still continued. 

Altogether the customs, ancient and modern, of which 
the flower worship formed a part, may be summed up as 
follows : 

__1. Lighting of bonfires, 1 and, in the evening, houses 

1 The word bonfire, according to the Century Dictionary, comes 
from the " early modern English, boonfire, bondfire, bounfire, later 
burnfire ; Scotch, banefire ; the earliest known instance is banefyre, 
"ignis ossium,' in the Catholicon Anglicum, A.D. 1483; from bone 
{Scotch, bane, Middle English, bone, bon, bane, &c.) + fire." 

Hence the word seems formerly to have meant a fire of bones ; a 
funeral pile, a pyre. And it has gradually developed into a fire out 
in the open, whatever its object. I 


illuminated with candles, torches carried about, and 
fireballs played with. 

2. Man and beast passed through the fire or between 
two fires. 

3. Going out at daybreak to gather Whitethorn or 
May (Sycamore in Cornwall), and making whistles of 
the branches for the May-music and merry-making. 
Blowing of tin horns at daybreak by boys, and from 
money received getting breakfast at a farmhouse. 

4. Flower-bedecked girls dance round a Maypole, and 
one chosen as " Queen of the May." 

5. In Cornwall the custom prevailed till lately of 
going out with buckets or any available vessels full of 
water and thoroughly wetting anyone who was not 
wearing a piece of May. 

6. The " Furry Dance " (in Cornwall), which consists 
in dancing through the town and also through as many 
houses as desired. If resistance is offered it is per- 
mitted to break open the door, and no penalty can be 

7. Sacrifices made (Isle of Man) at a very ancient 
date, and probably human ones still earlier (Scotland). 

8. Special worship at holy wells. 

Flowers are public property on Flora Day, and this 
custom of dancing through the houses is supposed to 
have originated probably for the purpose of picking 
the flowers in the gardens behind. 

The following is a short abstract of a very interest- 
ing account given in The Western Weekly News,. 
May 13th, 1905, of the "Flora Day" at Helston, 
Cornwall, which took place this year. It gives us 


&n idea of former festivals which are so quickly dying 
out i- 
The Furry Dance is always the feature of the day. 
The first part took place at seven o'clock in the morn- 
ing, at which hour two couples started out and danced 
through the streets and through some houses of residents. 
The great dance was at noon, and those taking part 
in it assembled in the Corn Exchange. 

When all was ready the whole company, headed by a 
band playing the old Furry Dance, started out and 
danced through the town and through many houses. 

The rest of the day was given over to a Horse Show 
and to much merry-making. Excursions had been run 
from all parts. 

II. The Rowan Tree and Witchcraft. 

There is little doubt that in the constant association 
of the Rowan with the May worship and the holy wells 
which were adjacent to the stone circles where the worship 
was conducted, we find the reason of the selection of 
the wood of the Rowan Tree as an antidote to all the 
ills which witchcraft was supposed to bring about. 
Rhys tells us that " The tree has also the old names of 
Quicken-tree, Roddon, and Witchen-tree." 

To quote again from Pratt (op. cit. vol. 2, p. 261) : 
" The old notion that the Mountain Ash, or Rowan Tree, 
as it is called in the North, was efficacious against 
witchcraft and the evil eye, still prevails in the North 
of England and the Scottish Highlands. Pennant remarks, 
in his Tour of Scotland, that the farmers carefully pre- 
serve their cattle against witchcraft by placing branches 


of Honeysuckle and Mountain Ash in their cowhouses on 
the 2nd of May. The milkmaid in Westmorland may 
often be seen, even now, with a branch of this tree 
either in her hand or tied to her milking-pail, from a 
similar superstition ; and in earlier days crosses cut out 
of its wood were worn about the person. In an old 
song called " Laidley Wood," in the Northumberland 
Garland, we find a reference to this : 

" The spells were vain, the hag return'd 
To the Queen in sorrowful mood, 
Crying, that witches have no power 
Where there is Rown-tree wood." 

Rhys, referring to May Day customs in the Isle of 
Man, writes 1 : "This was a day when systematic efforts 
were made to protect man and beast against elves and 
witches ; for it was then that people carried crosses of 
rowan in their hats and placed may-flowers over the 
tops of their .doors and elsewhere as preservatives 
against all malignant influences. With the same object 
in view, crosses of rowan were likewise fastened to the 
tails of the cattle, small crosses which had to be made 
without the help of a knife." 

In connection with this last reference, Rhys quotes a 
passage showing that a similar thing is done in Wales 
on May Eve. 2 " Another bad papistic habit which 
prevails among some Welsh people is that of placing 
some of the wood of the rowan-tree (coed cerdin or 
criafol) in their corn lands (ttafyrieu) and their fields 
on May- eve (Nos Glamau] with the idea that such a 
custom brings a blessing on their fields, a proceeding 

1 Celtic Folklore, vol. i. p. 308. 2 Vol. ii. p. 691. 


which would better become atheists and pagans than 

Ehys also tells us that in Lincolnshire, 1 "a twig 
of the rowan-tree, or wicken, as it is called, was effective 
against all evil things, including witches. It is useful 
in many ways to guard the welfare of the household, 
and to preserve both the live stock and the crops ; 
while placed on the churn it prevents any malign 
influence from retarding the coming of the butter." 

We also read (p. 358) : " Not only the Celts, but 
some also of the Teutons, have been in the habit of 
attaching great importance to the rowan or roan tree, 
and regarding it as a preservative against the malignant 
influence of witches and all things uncanny. . . . 
Moreover, the Swede of modern times believes the 
rowan a safeguard against witchcraft, and likes to have 
on board his ship something or other made of its 
wood, to protect him against tempests and the demons 
of the water world." 

In the Hibbert Lectures, 1886, we have another interest- 
ing reference to this tree. Rhys first relates an old Irish 
fairy story, the scene of w r hich is supposed to have 
been " on the plain near the Lake of Lein of the 
Crooked Teeth, that is to say, the Lake of Killarney."" 
In it we are told that the scarlet quicken-berries w r ere 
first brought from the " Land of Promise," that one 
was accidentally dropped and took root, and " from the 
berry there grew up a tree which had the virtues of 
the quicken-tree growing in fairy-land, for all the berries 
on it had many virtues." Then we learn (page 358) 
that these berries " formed part of the sustenance of the 
1 Celtic Folklore, vol. i. p. 325. 


gods, according to Goidelic notions ; and the description 
which has been quoted of the berries makes them a 
sort of Celtic counterpart to the soma-plant of Hindu 

This suggests that at the November Celebration a 
decoction or brew of Rowan berries was used for 
curative or superstitious purposes. 

I have thought it desirable to enter at some length 

o O 

into the use of the Rowan as a protection against witch- 
craft and as the basis of a brew used for different 
purposes, because the Mistletoe has been dealt with in 
exactly the same manner ; indeed, it was to the later 
Solstitial worship what the Rowan and Maythorn were 
to the earlier May worship. 

Mr. Frazer has collected in his Golden Bough l much 
information bearing on these points. 

In Sweden, on Midsummer Eve, Mistletoe is sought 
after, the people " believing it to be, in a high degree, 
possessed of mystic qualities ; and that if a sprig of 
it be attached to the ceiling of the dwelling-house, 
the horse's stall, or the cow's crib, the ' Troll ' will 
then be powerless to injure either man or beast." The 
Oak Mistletoe, we are told, is " held in the highest 
repute in Sweden, and is commonly seen in farmhouses 
hanging from the ceiling to protect the dwelling from 
all harm, but especially from fire ; and persons afflicted 
with the falling sickness think they can ward off 
attacks of the malady by carrying about with them a 
knife which has a handle of Oak Mistletoe. 
1 Second Edition, vol. iii. pp. 343 et seq. 



" A Swedish remedy for other complaints is to hang a 
sprig of Mistletoe round the sufferer's neck, or to make 
him wear on his finger a ring made from the plant." 

It would appear from Mr. Frazer's inquiries that the 
Mistletoe was en evidence at both the summer and 
winter solstice precisely as the Rowan and Hawthorn 
were associated with the May and November festivals. 

He writes : 

" The sacred mistletoe may have acquired, in the 
eyes of the Druids, a double portion of its mystic 
qualities at the solstice in June, and accordingly they 
may have regularly cut it with solemn ceremony on 
Midsummer Eve. The conjecture is confirmed when 
we find it to be still a rule of folklore that the 
mistletoe should be cut on this day. Further, the 
peasants of Piedmont and Lombardy still go out on 
Midsummer-morning to search the oak-leaves for the 
' oil of St. John,' which is supposed to heal all wounds 
made with cutting instruments. Originally, perhaps, the 
' oil of St. John ' was simply the mistletoe, or a 
decoction made from it. For in Holstein the mistletoe, 
especially oak-mistletoe, is still regarded as a panacea 
for green wounds ; and if, as is alleged, ' all-healer ' is 
the name of the plant in the modern Celtic speech of 
Brittany, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, this can be 
nothing but a survival of the name by which, as we 
have seen, the Druids addressed the oak, or rather, 
perhaps, the mistletoe. At Lacaune, in France, the old 
Druidical belief in the mistletoe as an antidote to all 
poisons still survives among the people ; they apply 
the plant to the stomach of the sufferer, or give him a 
decoction of it to drink." 


If we attempt to collate the different festivals with 
the vegetation most striking or abundant at each, in 
different countries naturally possessing different floras, a 
great variety of plants and trees has to be considered. 
It is probable that the Rowan-tree was chiefly taken 
here as the representative of the ash in more southern 
and eastern lands, and the ash indeed did not always 
take second rank, especially in the worship connected 
with wells, as we shall see. Grimm 1 calls the ash " a 
world tree which links heaven, earth and hell together ; 


of all trees the greatest and holiest." 

In the same way at the later established Vernal 
Equinox festival, the palm which grows in lower latitudes 
was replaced here by the willow. Coles, in his Adam in 
Eden, 2 writes : " The willow blossoms come forth before 
any leaves appear, and are in their most flourishing 
state usually before Easter, divers gathering them to 
deck up their houses on Palm Sunday, and therefore 
the said flowers are called palme." Willows are still 
used to deck churches at this time. 

As in the case of the Rowan, the willow (or palm) 
was a protection against witchcraft ; small crosses and 
palm were carried about in the purses and placed upon 
doors. These crosses had to be made on Palm Sunday 
out of the wood used in the church. Sometimes box 
replaced the willow. 

We are driven to the conclusion that practices con- 
nected with magic, the precursor of the later " witch- 
craft," were associated with the festivals now in question,' 

1 Teutonic Mythology, S tally brass's translation, ii. 796. 

2 Quoted by Hazlitt under Palm Sunday. 

P 2 


and that the products of the vegetable world at the 
different seasons were utilized for these purposes. 

The putting on of a special garb by the vegetable 
world at each season in turn would be one of the first 
things to be manifested, and the close association of 
it with the stars and the sun in their yearly course 
would cause the representatives of it to be worshipped 
together with them, and it would appear from the records 
that the astronomer priests did not neglect those magical 
arts which were practised by man in the early stages of 

Indeed, these magical practices seem to have taken 
such firm root that it was difficult to get rid of them 
even in much later times. Xewton 1 writes : " I once knew 
a foolish cock-brained priest which ministered to a 
certaine young man the ashes of boxe, being (forsooth) 
hallowed on Palme Sunday, according to the superstitious, 
order and doctrine of the Romish Church, which ashes 
he mingled with their unholie holie water using to the 
same a kind of .... exorcisme ; which .... medicine 
(as he persuaded the standers by) had vertue to drive 
away any ague." 

Among the virtues attributed to the May thorn was 
that of preserving the beauty of those maidens who 
at daybreak on May morning each year would wash 
themselves in hawthorn dew. As late as 1515 it was 
recorded that Catherine of Aragon, accompanied by 
twenty-five of her ladies, sallied out on May morning 
for this purpose. 

1 Herbal for the Bible, p. 207. 


I HAVE thought it most important to look up this 
subject with a view of seeing whether any clues were 
available which could help us to associate the introduction 
of the well ceremonials with the worshippers of the 
May or of the Solstitial year. For shortness I will 
call the ceremonial "baptism," not necessarily baptism, 
in the modern sense, but as implying the use of water for 
purifying or other religious purpose. 

That baptism was pre-Christian is shown by John 
the Baptist using the Jordan for this purpose before 
Christ's ministration began. (Matt. 3. 6.) 

There is a tremendous literature l dealing with the 
folklore of holy wells and streams. The number of 

L The literature that I have chiefly consulted is as follows : 

R. C. Hope . . . Holy Wells ; their Legends and Traditions. 

R. L. Quiller-Couch . Ancient and Holy Wells of Cornwall. 

W. G. Wood-Martin . Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland. 

G. L. Gomme . . . Ethnology in Folklore. 

Prof. Rhys .... Celtic Folklore, Manx and Welsh. 

W. C. Borlase . . Dolmens of Ireland. 

S. Baring-Gould . . A Book of the West. 


holy wells and streams in Britain is legion ; there are 
3,000 in Ireland alone, and the first thing which 
strikes us in a casual study of the folklore is the close 
association of the wells with sacred trees. Almost 
equally distinctly we gather that both were situated 
near holy stones, and that the worship included cere- 
monials connected with all three. 

The folklore dealing with holy wells and well-wor- 
ship is so various that it will be useful for our present 
purpose to classify the portions we need under the 
following headings. 

1. Well-worship outcome of pre-Christian days and 

2. Wells generally situated near circles, dolmens, 
cromlechs or cairns, or churches which have replaced 

3. Association with sacred trees. 

4. Well-worship and offerings. 

5. Time of the chief festivals. 

1. Pagan origin. It seems to be accepted now that 
well-worship in Britain originated long before the 
Christian era ; that it was not introduced by the 
Christian missionaries, but rather they found it in vogue 
on their arrival, and tolerated it at first and utilized 
it afterwards, as they did a great many other Pagan 

With regard to this point Wood-Martin writes : l 
:< In many Irish MSS. there are allusions to this pre- 
Christian worship. For example, Tirehan relates that 

1 Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland, A Folklore Sketch, ii., 
p. 47. 


St. Patrick, in his progress through Ireland, came to 
a fountain called Slaun, to which the Druids offered 
sacrifices, and which they worshipped as a God ; and in 
Adamnan's Life of St. Columkille it is recounted that 
this saint, when in the country of the Picts, heard of 
a notable fountain to which the Pagans paid divine 

He adds (p. 50) : 

" It evidently did not originate in the blessing 
of wells by early saints and thus spread downwards, 
until it became almost, if not quite, universal ; 
on the contrary, it began from the people, who 
were being Christianized, and thence permeated the 
entire system of Irish Christianity." 

Baring-Gould tells us much concerning the transi- 
tional state (pp. 28 et seq.). Wood-Martin divides 
holy wells into three classes : (1) those which " derive 
their reputed virtues from Pagan superstition " ; (2) 
those which were " transferred from Pagan to so-called 
Christian uses," and (3) "a few which may lay claim 
to a merely Christian origin." * 

It is very easy to understand how the purely devout 
custom developed in course of time, in the case of 
some wells at any rate, into a more superstitious one, 
how T some wells came to be called " wishing-wells " and 
others were regarded as prophetic. Ehys gives us 
several instances of these two classes in Wales. 2 

Wishing-wells are known all over the United King- 
dom ; many authors give accounts of them. 3 

1 Pp. 11, 47. 

2 Celtic Folklore, Manx and Welsh, ii., p. 366. 

3 Wood-Martin, loc. cit., ii., p. 80. 


There can be no doubt that in the most ancient 
times magical practices were carried on at wells or at 
the religious centre of which the well formed a con- 
stituent part. Local practices of witchcraft would be 
a natural survival of these. Gomme (p. 87) thus refers 
to the well of St. Aelian, not far from Bettws Abergeley, 
in Denbighshire. 

" Near the well resided a woman who officiated as a 
kind of priestess. Anyone who wished to inflict a curse 
upon an enemy resorted to this priestess, and for a 
trifling sum she registered, in a book kept for the pur- 
pose, the name of the person on whom the curse was 
wished to fall. A pin was then dropped into the well 
in the name of the victim, and the curse was complete." 

The magical associations with wells appear in the 
following extract (given by Quiller-Couch, p. 134) of a 
letter from Dr. O'Connor, the author of the letters of 
Columbanus, to his brother. 

" I have often inquired of your tenants what they 
themselves thought of their pilgrimages to the wells of 
Kill-Aracht, Tobbar Brigade, Tobbar Muir, near Elphin, 
Moor, near Castlereagh, where multitudes annually 
assembled to celebrate what they, in broken English, 
termed Patterns (Patron's days) ; and when I pressed 
a very old man, Owen Hester, to state what possible 
advantage he expected to derive from the singular 
custom of frequenting in particular such wells as were 
contiguous to an old blasted oak, or an upright hewn 
stone, and what the meaning was of the yet more 
singular custom of sticking rags on the branches of 
such trees and spitting on them, his answer, and the 
answer of the oldest men, was that their ancestors 


always did it, and that it was a preservation against 
Geasa Draoidecht, i.e., the sorceries of the Druids, and 
that their cattle were preserved by it from infectious 
disorders; that the daoini m'aithe, i.e., the fairies, were 
kept in good humour by it ; and so thoroughly per- 
suaded were they of the sanctity of these Pagan 
practices that they would travel bareheaded and bare- 
footed from ten to twenty miles for the purpose of 
crawling on their knees round these wells, upright 
stones, and oak trees, westward, as the sun travels, 
some three times, some six, some nine, and so on in 
uneven numbers until their voluntary penances were 
completely fulfilled." 

2. Wells generally situated near stone monuments or 
churches which have replaced them. We find many 
instances of wells near stone circles and dolmens. 

It may even be that the existence of the spring 
determined the position of the circle, for the officiating 
astronomer-priest must like other mortals have had a 
water supply available. " Where a spring or a river 
flows," says Seneca, "there should we build altars and 
offer sacrifices" (Hope, p. 47). The following shows 
how closely connected they were. 1 

" Closely associated with the circles, and occupying 
an equally important position in the religious rites and 
ceremonies of the ancient inhabitants, were sacred wells. 
These were more numerous than circles, no doubt owing 
to the fact that their acquisition was more easily accom- 

1 Standing Stones and Maeshoive of Stenness, by Magnus Spence, 
p. 13. 


plished : but amongst sacred wells we find some, as we 
find certain circles, occupying a position of pre-eminence 
in the religious cult of their votaries, and these, as a 
rule, in close proximity to sun and moon temples. At 
Tillie Beltane, in Aberdeenshire, in close proximity to 
the remains of a larger and smaller circle, is a well 
which was held sacred by the people. According to 
Col. Leslie, on Beltane and Midsummer days, those on 
whom the dire hand of disease had fallen, or those 
desirous of averting that calamity, went seven times 
round the sacred wells sunwise (deasil) l and then pro- 
ceeded to the circles, where a like ceremony was per- 

" In Stenness we find the same association of the well 
and the circles. But in harmony with the unrivalled 
completeness of these monuments ... we find the 
sacred well here in a closer and deeper connection with 
the circles than elsewhere." 

" In the parish of Stenness there is a district called 
Bigswell, in the centre of which is a sacred well, 
and from which the district takes its name, Big(s)welL 
... Be that as it may, we know from tradition that 
down to the time when the Stone of Odin was de- 
molished, parents came to the well with children, on 
Beltane and Midsummer, passed round it sunwise, and 
having bathed their little ones (a healthy ordeal), 
carried them thence to the Stone of Odin, and passed 
them through the hole as a divine protection against 
the malignant influences of the evil one." 

Borlase records an instance of a well near a stone- 

1 That is from W. to E. through K, or E. to W. through S. ; in the 
same direction as the hands of a clock. 


circle in Ireland in the Townland of Ballyferriter, in 
County Kerry. 1 

The same author also gives examples in Ireland of 
wells near dolmens and of wells covered by dolmens. 2 

It may be remarked that in Cornwall Chapel Euny 
well is associated with the circles at Bartinne and 
Cam Euny ; St. Cleer with the three circles at the 
Hurlers, and Alsia well is near the Bolleit circle. 
Mr. Horton Bolitho is my authority for these state- 

A well is often found near a cell, cairn or ' keeilL 
Khys gives us two examples in the Isle of Man. 3 At 
Ardmore Bay the holy well is within the ruined chapel 
of the saint. 4 A vast pile of stones surrounds the holy 
well in Glencolumbkille in Donegal. 5 

It might be useful to add here that it is a very 
common thing to find a well by a so-called tomb 
of a saint. 

Let us turn now to wells situated near churches. 

It is very generally known that many churches 
have been built on the sites of stone-circles, menhirs, 
&c. This leads us to think that some form of 
worship must have taken place at the " ancient-stones " 
originally. The following extract from Wilson's 
Archaeology (page 110) is given in Stonehenge by Sir 
Henry James (page 17) : 

" The common Gaelic phrase Am bheil thu dol don 
chlachan Are you going to the stones ? by which the 
Scottish Highlander still enquires at a neighbour if he 

1 The Dolmens of Ireland, i., p. 3. 2 Ibid., pp. 95, 765. 

3 Celtic Folklore, Manx and Welsh, i., p. 332. 

4 Borlase, loc. cit., p. 760. 5 Ibid., p. 426. 


is bound for church, seems in itself no doubtful tradition 
of ancient worship within the monolithic ring." 

Khys gives us many instances of wells near churches, 
and here it may be useful to add that the Welsh for 


well is Ffynnou. 

Ffynnon Fag-Ian is described as being near a church, 
also Ffynnon Fair, a wishing-well. Criccieth Church 
is supposed to have had a well near it at one time. 
Again, Ffynnon Beris is near the parish church of 
Llanberis (p. 366), and Ffynuon Elian near to the church 
of Llaneliau, Denbighshire. Then there are St. Teilo's 
Church and Well at Llandeilo Llwydarth, near Maen 
Clochog, North Pembrokeshire. 

Wood-Martin 2 refers to the rites at the well of 
Tubberpatrick, part of the ceremony taking place in 
the church near by. 

3. Association of sacred wells with sacred trees. 
Rhys, and many other authors, give us several 
instances of a tree by the side of a well. 8 

When we come to deal with well offerings we shall 
find, in fact, that in almost every case a tree has been a 


necessary companion of the well, as the well offerings 
were hung on them. 

In many cases, of course, the kind of tree is not 
specified. When it is, it is almost invariably the rowan 
or hawthorn. Rhys tells us: '-'The tree to expect by 
a sacred well is doubtless some kind of thorn." 4 

1 Rhys, Celtic Folklore, Manx and Welsh, p. 363. 
- Pagan Ireland, p. 160. 

3 Rhys, Celtic Folklore, Manx and Welsh, i., pp. 351, 356, 
357 > &c - 4 Rhys, ibid., p. 332. 


Then again, with reference to Ireland, Ehys, p. 335,. 
.quotes a passage from a letter by the late Mr. W. C. 
Borlase, on Rag Offerings and Primitive Pilgrimages in 
Ireland, to the effect that a hawthorn almost invariably 
stands by the brink of the typical Irish " holy well." 

There are also many references to thorn trees in the 
same position in Wales. 

There are thorn trees at St. Madron's well in Cornwall, 
and at Chapel well St. Breward in the same county near 
Bodmin, there is a thorn tree over the well. 

Not only are wells often recorded as near sacred trees, 
but in the case of some we learn that at the chief 
annual festival they were decked with flowers and 
garlands, and " encircled with a jovial band of young 
people celebrating the day with song and dance." This 
is recorded of the " blessing of the Brine " at Nantwich 
(Hope, p. 7). 

4. Well worship and offerings. Although the tradi- 
tions and superstitions connected with wells are fast 
becoming things of the past, in certain parts they are 
still believed and practised. 

Gomme l informs us that well-worship prevails in 
every county of the three kingdoms. He finds it " most 
vital in the Gaelic countries, somewhat less so in the 
British, and almost entirely wanting in the Teutonic 
south-east. In some cases wells were resorted to 
for the care of diseases ; in others to obtain change of 
weather or good luck. Offerings were made to them to 
propitiate their guardian gods and nymphs. Pennant 
tells us that in olden times the rich would sacrifice 

1 Ethnology in Folklore, p. 78. 


one of their horses at a well near Abergelen to secure 
a blessing upon the rest. 1 Fowls were offered at St. 
Tegla's Well, near Wrexham, by epileptic patients, 2 
but of late years the well spirits have had to be 
content with much smaller tributes such trifles as 
pins, rags, coloured pebbles and small coins." 

In consequence of this dwindling down of the offering 
we have chiefly to do with rags, but I think w r e may learn 
from the traditions that originally it was an offering of a 
garment, and to the officiating priest, at the well, or temple 
with which the well was connected. It is also a question 
whether the almost universal association of pins with the 
garment or part of it might not have originated at a time 
when such an offering it \vas probably originally a skin 
to a priest without a pin (of bone) to fasten it on would 
not have been complete. In Kent's cavern pins of bone 
have been found associated with bones of palaeolithic 

Mr. Gomme tells us, 3 " In the case of some wells, 
especially in Scotland, at one time the whole garment 
was put down as an offering. Gradually these offerings 
of clothes became less and less till they came down to 
rags." He also points out, as we have already seen, 
that " the geographical distribution of rag-offerings 
coincides with the existence of monoliths and dolmens." 
As has been noted, almost invariably by the side of 
every well there grows the "sacred tree," a rowan or 
thorn for the most part ; on this tree the rags are hung, 
then the bent pin is dropped in. If there happens to 
be no tree, or if it is so old that only the stump is 

1 Sikes: British Goblins, p. 351. 2 Sikes, idem., p. 329. 

3 Folklore, 1892, p. 89. 


left, then the rags may sometimes be seen wedged in 
between the stones of the well. 

Quiller-Couch (p. 135) tells us that at Ahagour in 
Mayo is a well much frequented by pilgrims, for penance 
chiefly, where among other offerings they cut up their 
clothes, be they ever so new, arid tie them to the two old 
trees growing near, "lest, on the day of judgment," thinks 
the superstitious peasant, " the Almighty should forget 
that he came there, and in order that the tokens should 
be known, when St. Patrick should lay them before the 

When the original well-worship in relation with the 
temples became disestablished, if the well-worship were 
kept up at all, reasons other than the .old one would soon 
be invented, and many of these would naturally be con- 
nected with magic and sorcery. In the oldest days the 
priest would be a physician as well as an astronomer and 
a magician, and his advice might be good for various dis- 
orders, but after he had disappeared there was only magic 
to depend upon ; and this atmosphere is reflected in the 

I will now give a few extracts to show what goes on at 
present in certain localities with regard to the offerings, 
and the frame of mind of the devotees. 

With reference to the reasons for the offerings made 
in the present day, Wood-Martin writes : l 

" Wells were the haunts of spirits that proved to be 
propitious if remembered, but were vindictive if neglected, 
and hence no devotee approached the sacred precincts 
empty-handed, the principle being no gift no cure ; 
therefore the modern devotee, when tying up a fragment 

1 Pagan Ireland, p. 145. 


from the clothing, or dropping a cake, a small coin, or 
a crooked pin into the well, is unconsciously worship- 
ping the old presiding spirit of the place." 

Rhys 1 gives us a great deal of information on this. 
The ritual varies at some of them. People came from 
far and near ; it is the custom to make some sort of offer- 
ing, rags and pins being the most modern, and about 
these we have most information as a matter of course. 
Rhys quotes statements he has received about three 
wells in the county of Glamorgan (Vol. 1, p. 356). At 
the first it was the custom " that the person who wishes 
his health to be benefited should wash in the water of 
the well, and throw a pin into it afterwards." At 
another " the custom prevails of tying rags to the 
branches of a tree growing close at hand " ; and at the 
third, " it is the custom for those who are healed in it 
to tie a shred of linen or cotton to the branches of a tree 
that stands close by ; and there the shreds are almost 
as numerous as the leaves." 

Further (p. 363) we read of another Ffynnon Faglan, 
and of this Rhys says, " One told me his mother used 
to take him to it when he was a child for sore eyes, 
bathe them with the water, and then drop in a pin. The 
other man, when he was young, bathed in it for rheumat- 
ism." Of this well it is recorded that when it was 
cleaned out about fifty years ago " two basinfuls of pins 
were taken out," which were all bent, but no coins 
were found in it. 

Wood-Martin - also gives an interesting account of 
. the rite performed at a certain well in Ireland ; it is a 

1 Celtic Folklore, Manx and Welsh. 
~ Pagan Ireland, p. 160. 


little more elaborate than at some, but affords an idea 
of what was probably at one time a very usual 
ceremony in connection with stones in other places. 

" In a statistical account of the parish of Dungiven, 
written in 1813, it is stated that at the well of 
Tubberpatrick, after performing the usual rounds, 
devotees wash their hands and feet with the water 
and tear off a small rag from their clothes, which they tie 
on a bush overhanging the well ; from whence they all 
proceed to a large stone in the Eiver Roe, immediately 
below the old church, and having performed an oblation 
they walk round the stone, bowing to it, and repeating 
prayers as at the well. Their next movement is to the 
old church, within which a similar ceremony goes on, and 
they finish this rite by a procession and prayers round 
the upright stone." 

5. Time of the chief festival. On this point there is 
not a great quantity of precise information, but what 
we have points to May 1 as being about the time 
when the holy wells are most frequented and considered 
most efficacious. 

This lack of information arises from the fact that the 
existence bf the May year in prehistoric times has not 
been even dreamt of by those who have compiled the 
various accounts of the fast fading traditions, and in very 
many instances a reference to an unknown saint's day is 
the only information given as to the time of the annual 
celebration. Wide generalisation, therefore, from the 
material at hand is risky. 

I will refer in the first instance to the May worship, 
and begin with the famous Madron well in Cornwall, the 


walls of which I found to be oriented to the May sunrise, 
so that the priest officiating at the altar would face the 
sunrise. Quiller-Couch (p. 137) thus refers to what 
happened there. 

" Children used to be taken to this well on the first 
three Sunday mornings in May to be dipped in the w r ater, 
that they might be cured of the rickets, or any other 
disorder with which they were troubled. Three times 
they were plunged into the water, after having been 
stripped naked ; the parent, or person dipping them, 
standing- facing the sun ; after the dipping they were 
passed nine times round the well from east to west ; then 
they were dressed and laid on St. Madern's bed ; should 
they sleep, and the water in the well bubble, it was 
considered a good omen. Strict silence had to be kept 
during the entire performance, or the spell w r as broken. 
At the present time the people go to the well in crowds 
on the first Sunday in May, when the Wesleyans hold a 
service there, and a sermon is preached ; after which the 
people throw in two pins or pebbles to consult the spirit, 
or try for sweethearts ; if the two articles sink together, 
they will soon be married. 

" Here divination is performed on May morning by 
rustic maidens anxious to know when they are to be 
married. Two pieces of straw about an inch long are 
crossed and transfixed with a pin. This, floated on the 
waters, elicits bubbles, the number of which, carefully 
counted, denotes the years before the happy day." 

Chapel Euny in Cornwall, near the Bartinne circle, has 
a wishing (lucky) well near it. It was used on one of 
the three first Wednesdays in May. Children suffer- 
ing from mesenteric disease are dipped three times 


" widderschynnes," that is contrary to the sun's motion, 
and dragged round the well three times in the same 
direction. 1 

Edmunds 2 thus refers to this well : 

" Some years since I had the curiosity to go with a 
friend to Chapel Euny on one of these Wednesdays, and, 
whilst watching at a distance, we saw two w r omen come to 
the well at the appointed hour, and perform this ceremony 
on an infant." 

Alsia Well, in the parish of Buryan, same parish as 
Bolleit circle, has its well ceremonials on the first three 
Wednesdays in May. 

In Cornwall the May bathing ceremonial is even carried 
out in salt water. 3 The time chosen is the same as that at 
Madron and Chapel Euny, the first three Sundays in May. 

This Sunday in May celebration is not confined to 
Cornwall. At Eden Hall, Giant's Cave, water with 
sugar is drunk on the third Sunday in May. A vast 
concourse of both sexes is present. 4 

At Korrington, a township in the parish of Chirbury, 
was a holy well at which a wake was celebrated on 
Ascension Day. 

In the account of this well given by Gomme (p. 82) 
we get a glimpse of many associated usages. 

" The well was adorned with a bower of green boughs, 
rushes, and flowers, and a may-pole was set up. The 
people walked round the well, dancing and frolicking as 
they \vent. They threw pins into the well to bring good 
luck and to preserve them from being bewitched, and 
they also drank some of the water. Cakes were also 

1 Hope, p. 14. l The Land's End District, p. 72. 

3 Edmunds, p. 72. 4 Hope, p. 40. 

Q 2 


eaten ; they were round flat buns from three to four 
inches across, sweetened, spiced, and marked with a 
cross, and they were supposed to bring good luck if 

The legend given by Quiller-Couch (p. 55) respecting 
St. Cuthbert's well in North Cornwall is that " in olden 
times mothers on Ascension Day brought their deformed 
or sickly children here, and dipped them in, at the same 
time passing them through the aperture connecting the 
two cisterns ; and thus, it is said, they became healed of 
their disease or deformity. It would seem that other classes 
also believed virtue to reside in its water ; for it is said 
that the cripples were accustomed to leave their crutches- 
in the hole at the head of the well." 

At the village of Tissington, near Ashbourne, in Derby- 
shire, the custom of well -flowering is still observed on 
every anniversary of the Ascension (Hope, p. 48). 

We may gather from these associated observances 
at different places that the \vells themselves were 
situated near circles, for the worshippers would not 
be distributed at such a time. This argument is 
strengthened by the custom of " waking the well " 
which took place on the patron saint's day. 

With regard to the time of the day or night at which 
well-worship took place, there seems little doubt that for 
the most part it was carried on at night. The practices 
connected with the " waking of the well " indicate this 
clearly, and when it is remembered that these ancient 
worships were carried on at a time when marriage had 
not been instituted, we can understand that many 
' pagan ' rituals savoured of sensualism as we should 
now think and call it. 


The particular times when it was considered most 
propitious for the sick to visit the wells appear anciently 
to have been at daybreak or sunrise, 

At the well at Farr, in Sutherlandshire, it is held that 
the patient, after undergoing his plunge, drinking of the 
water, and making his offering, " must be away from the 
banks so as to be fairly out of sight of the water before 
the sun rises, else no cure is effected." At Roche Holy- 
well, in Cornwall, before sunrise on holy Thursday was 
the appointed time. 

Sometimes the moment of sunrise is chosen. To bathe 
in the well of St. Medan, at Kirkmaiden in Wigtonshire, 
as the sun rose on the first Sunday in May was considered 
an infallible cure for almost any disease. 

On the other hand, in some cases, as at St. Madron's 
well, noon is chosen on the first three Sundays in May, 
" not believing that these waters have any virtue if 
resorted to on any other days of the year, or at any other 
hour of the day." 

With regard to the August festival, there is a holy well 
at St. Cieer, near the Hurlers ; the festival is held on 
August 9th. 1 I have no special references to August wells 
in Ireland, but there is evidence given by Piers 2 that at 
that time cattle were bathed. 

" On the first Sunday in harvest, viz., in August, they 
will be sure to drive their cattle into some pool or river 
and therein swim them ; this they observe as inviolable as 
if it were a point of religion, for they think no beast will 
live the whole year thro' unless they be thus drenched. 

1 St. Cleer = St. Cledod, A.D. 482. The arms of St. Cleer are the 
Sun in its glory. 

2 Desci-iption of Westmeath, 1682, quoted by Vallencey, i., 121. 


I deny not but that swimming cattle, and chiefly in this 
season of the year, is healthful unto them, as the poet 
hath observed : 

" Balantemque gregern fluvio mersare salubri." Virg. 
In th' healthful flood to plunge the bleating flock. 

but precisely to do this on the first Sunday in harvest, I 
look on as not only superstitious but profane." 

I next come to the solstice in June. 

There is evidence concerning wells quite akin to that 
furnished by the astronomical use of the circles, that the May 
year festivals were subsequently changed to solstitial 
dates. The well worship does not appear to have been 
carried on in the cold weather hence the absence of 
references to February and November ; for the same reason 
we have only now to do with the summer solstice. 

Hazlitt quotes the following from the Irish Hudibras 
(1689) concerning June worship at a well in the North of 

Ireland : 

" Have you beheld, when people pray 
At St. John's well on Patron- Day, 
By charm of priest and miracle, 
To cure diseases at this well ; 
The valleys filled with blind and lame, 
And go as limping as they came/' 

At Barn well (Beirna-well = youths' well), near Cam- 
bridge, the festival took place on St. John's Day. 1 

Brand, in his history of Newcastle (ii. 54), refers to a 
well still called Bede's AVell, near Jarrow. "As late as 
1740 it was a prevailing custom to bring children 
troubled with any disease or infirmity ; a crooked pin was 
put in, and the well laved dry between each dipping. 
1 Hazlitt, ii., 616. 


My informant has seen twenty children brought together 
on a Sunday, to be dipped in this well, at which also, on 
Midsummer Eve, there was a great resort of neighbouring- 
people, with bonfires, music, etc." 

Hope gives references to seven wells dedicated to 
" St. John," one to " St. John the Baptist," and four to 
St. Peter. These may have been solstitial wells, but the 
information given is very slight and not to the present 
point. He states (xxii) that the most important celebra- 
tions were first held in May and at the summer solstice. 
He then adds, " later Easter and Ascensiontide were the 
favoured seasons." May, Summer Solstice and Easter was, 
I think, the true order. 

Finally, I may refer to the earliest holy well known 
to history. This is the famous well at Heliopolis where 
Ea used to wash himself, and Piankhi, B.C. 740, went and 
washed his face in it. At this same well the Virgin sat 
and washed her Son's swaddling bands in it. Its water 
made the balsam trees to grow. It is now called by 
the Arabs " The Fountain of the Sun " 'Eyn ash-Shems. 



THE recent chapters have, I think, established, by the 
evidence derived from folklore and tradition, that there 
was in the long past a combined worship of trees, 
wells and streams in the neighbourhood of sacred 
places, the sacred place being a stone circle or some 
other monument built up of stones. 

We have gathered also that the chief times of 
worship were on or near the most important dates 
defined for us by the May year, the original year 
marked out by the various agricultural and other 
operations proper to the various seasons. 

It is again imperative that I should point out that 
if the basis of this worship was not utility it must 
have been started by men sufficiently skilled to 
indicate by their astronomical knowledge the proper 
times for the various operations to which I have 
referred. In this we see the reason for the local 
combination of the worship in the neighbourhood of 
the stones, for the stones were really the instruments 
which enabled the astronomer-priest to be useful to 


the community ; that he in process of time became 
powerful and sacred because he was wise, and added 
medicine and magic to his other qualifications, was 
only what was to be expected. 

I am not the first to have been driven by the 
facts to note the close association to which I have 
referred, that the cults were liot separate but were 
parts of one whole. 

Wood-Martin speaks with the most certain sound 
on this point. " It will be seen that, from a review 
of the whole subject, stone, water, tree, and animal- 
worship are intimately connected." l 

What the analysis in the recent chapters, taken in 
connection with the astronomical results previously 
stated, has done is perhaps to give a clear reason for the 
connection. Not only were the cults started together, but 
they remained together for a long time ; it is only in 
quite late years that the traditions have 'become so 
dim that practices once closely connected are now 
dealt with apart from the rest. 

Hope points out (p. xxii) that the 16th of the canons 
of the reign of Edgar, A.D. 963, which enjoins the clergy 
to be diligent, advance Christianity, and extinguish 
heathenism, mentions especially the worship of stones, 
trees, and fountains. The laws of Knut (A.D. 1018) 
specify the worship " of heathen gods, the sun, moon, 
fire, rivers, fountains, rocks, or trees." 

Now, although the folklore evidence I have brought 
together has been gathered for the most part from 
the British Isles, my inquiries have not been limited 
to that area. 

1 Wood-Martin, p. 265. 


It was natural that when the study of folklore had 
suggested that there was a close connection between 
the worship carried on in Britain at stone monu- 
ments, sacred trees, and sacred wells an attempt should 
have been made to see whether these three cults had 
been associated out of Britain with the ceremonials 
of any of the early peoples for which complete and 
trustworthy information is available. 

On this point the traditions of widely sundered 
countries is amazingly strong. 

The folklore of the Pyrenees, France, Spain and 
Portugal regarding sacred wells is very similar to that 
of Ireland. Borlase writes : l 

"It is interesting to notice that the pre-Christian 
custom called dessil, or circuit around a venerated spot, 
which is practised in Ireland in the case of one dolmen 
at least, as well as at wells and Churches innumerable, 
is found also in Portugal." 

In the Pyrenees, too, fairies and spirits are thought 
much of in this connection. Borlase tells us : 2 " They 
are the presiding genii of certain wells." He adds : 

" It is not in Ireland alone that dolmens are asso- 
ciated with the notion of wells and water springs. The 
Portuguese names, Anta do Fontao, Fonte Coberta, Anta 
do Fonte-de Mouratao, and the French names, Fonte 
de Rourre, and Fonte nay le Marmion, show this to be 
the case." 3 

In Persia Sir Wm. Ouseley saw a tree covered with 
rags, and similar trees in the Himalayas are associated 
with large heaps of stones (Gomme, p. 105). 

1 Dolmens of Ireland, ii., p. G96. 

- Ibid., ii., p. 580. 3 Ibid., p. 772. 


The late General Pitt-Rivers affirms that the customs 
of well-offerings I referred to in the last chapter are 
invariably associated with cairns, megalithic monuments 
or some such early Pagan institutions, and he adds that 
the area in which traces of well-offerings are found is 
conterminous with the area of the megalithic monu- 
ments. 1 

The idea that the waters of certain wells have 
marvellous healing powers is also not confined to the 
British Isles, for in a great many parts of Europe, 
perhaps more especially in France, Spain and Portugal, 
we find instances. 

The practice of worshipping in connection with w T ells 
and the sacred stones and sacred trees which were asso- 
ciated with them, as we have seen, was indeed in ancient 
days almost, if not quite, universal wherever man existed. 
The traditions of the past, therefore, are to be gathered 
over a very wide area. I quote a summary of the 
universality of this practice given by the late General 
Pitt-Rivers in the paper already noticed : 

" Burton says it extends throughout northern Africa 
from west to east ; Mungo Park mentions, it in western 
Africa ; Sir Samuel Baker speaks of it on the confines of 
Abyssinia, and says that the people who practised it 
were unable to assign a reason for doing so ; Burton also 
found the same custom in Arabia during his pilgrimage to 
Mecca ; in Persia Sir William Ouseley saw a tree dose to 
a large monolith covered with these rags, and he describes 
it as a practice appertaining to a religion long since pro- 
scribed in that country ; in the Dekkan and Ceylon 
Colonel Leslie says that the trees in the neighbourhood of 
1 Journal Eth. <S'oc., N.S., i., 64. 


wells may be seen covered with similar scraps of cotton ; 
Dr. A. Campbell speaks of it as being practised by the 
Limboos near Darjeeling in the Himalaya, where it is 
associated, as in Ireland, with large heaps of stones ; and 
Hue in his travels mentions it among the Tartars." 

The astronomical facts given in this book, gathered 
from a study of the monuments in these islands, can 
only give us information touching the introduction of 
the combined worship here. 

My investigations have strongly suggested, to say the 
least, that there were men here with knowledge enough to 
utilise the movements of the sun and stars for temple, 
and no doubt practical purposes before 2000 B.C., that 
is, a thousand years before Solomon was born, and at 
about the time that the Hecatompedon was founded 
at Athens. 

If this is anywhere near the truth, these men must 
have been representatives of a very old civilisation. 

Now the civilisation principally considered by arch- 
aeologists in connection with the building of the monu- 
ments which I have studied is the Aryan, of which the 
elts formed a branch. This view, however, is not 
universally held ; the late General Pitt-Kivers, and I 
know of no higher authority, stated his opinion that 
'The megalithic monuments . . . take us back to pre- 
Aryan people, and suggest the spread of this people 
over the area covered by their remains." l 

Mr. Gomme is of the same opinion (p. 27) : 

" Ceremonies which are demoustrably non- Aryan in 
India, even in the presence of Aryan people, must 
in origin have been non-Aryan in Europe, though the 

1 Journ. Eth. Soc., N.S., i., 64. 


race from whom they have descended is not at present 
identified by ethnologists." 

Sergi also points out : 

" Indo-Germanism led to almost entire forgetfulness- 
of the most ancient civilisations of the earth, those bora 
in the valleys of the Euphrates and the Tigris, and in 
the valley of the Nile ; no influence was granted to 
them over Greco-Roman classic civilisation, almost none 
anywhere in the Mediterranean." 

It is not necessary for me to deal at length with the 
great Aryan controversy in this book, even if the subject 
were within my competence, which it is not ; but 
now that w r e have a large number of monuments dated, 
say, within twenty years of their use, it is important 
to bring forward some dates arrived at by archaeologists 
and philologists to compare with those which the 
astronomical method of inquiry has revealed. 

Hall ~ gives evidence to show that the Aryans did 
not reach Greece till after the earlier period of the 
Mycenaean age, which he dates at about 1700 B.C. 

With regard to the date of the Aryan invasion of 
Britain, Mr. Read, of the Department of Ethnography, 
British Museum, informs me that it may be. taken as 
about 1000 B.C. ; it was associated with cremation. It 
is highly probable that these Aryans were the Goidels 
or the Gael. These were followed some 700 years later 
by another Aryan sept the Brythons. Mr. Read is 
also of opinion that the Goidels reached Britain from 
the country round the South Baltic, and the Brythons 
from or through north-east France. 

1 The Mediterranean Races, p. 4. 

- The Oldest Civilisation of Greece, p. 105. 


Archaeologists, however, recognise a pre- Aryan invasion, 
about 1800 B.C. (a date determined by the introduction 
of bronze), of a brachycephalic folk who built covered 
barrows, different in these respects from the neolithic 
folk, who were long-skulled and built long barrows. 
Now, in relation to the stone structures to which this 
book especially refers, the question arises, are we then 
dealing with this swarm or the people whom they 
found on the soil ? 

There are some indications in the traditions which 
imply that we are really dealing with an early stone 
age, when flints were the only weapons, and there were 
no clothes to speak of. I will give one or two examples 
of these traditions. Gomme (p. 53) refers to a singular 
fact preserved among the ceremonies of witchcraft in 
Scotland : 

" In order to injure the waxen image of the 
intended victim, the implements used 'in some cases 
by the witches were stone arrowheads, or elf-shots, as 
they were called, and their use was accompanied by 
an incantation. Here w r e have, in the undoubted form 
of a prehistoric implement, the oldest untouched detail 
of early life which has been preserved by witchcraft." 

Gomme (p. 39) also tells us that one of the May 
practices at Stirling is for boys of ten and twelve years 
old to divest themselves of their clothing, and in a state 
of nudity to run round certain natural or artificial 
circles. "Formerly the rounded summit of Demyat, 
an eminence in the Ochil range, was a favourite scene 
of this strange pastime, but for many years it has 
been performed at the King's Knot, in Stirling, an 
octagonal mound in the Royal Gardens. The per- 


formances are not infrequently repeated at Midsummer 
and Lammas." He adds, " The fact that in this instance 
the practice is continued only by ' boys of ten and 
twelve years old/ shows that we have here one of the 
last stages of an old rite before its final abolition." 

Baring-Gould (p. 21) provides us with a practice in 
Brittany which would seem to be a remnant of a pre- 
clothing age. 

Near Carnac is a menhir, at which a singular "ceremony 
took place till comparatively recently, and may perhaps 
still be practised in secret. A married couple that have 
no family repair to this stone when the moon is full, 
strip themselves stark naked and course one another 
round it a prescribed number of times, whilst their 
relations keep guard against intrusion at a respectful 

Now it is in connection with this question that I 
am in hopes that some help may be got from the 
astronomical results recorded in the present volume. The 
dates revealed by the orientation of the circles and 
outstanding stones already dealt with (and there is 
a large number to follow) indicate that it is among 
the records of some people of whom the civilisation 
is very ancient that we must look in the first in- 
stance with a view of tracing the origin of our British 

Further, now that we have been able to follow their 
astronomical methods, to note how sound they were, 
and to gather the purposes of utility they were intended 
to serve, it is simply common sense to inquire, in the 
first instance, if they may have been connected with 
these ancient peoples whose astronomical skill is 



universally recognised, and whose records and even 
observations have come down to us. 

Now, while we know nothing of the astronomy of 
the Aryans generally, or that of the Celts in particu- 
lar, the astronomical knowledge of the Babylonians 
and Egyptians is one of the wonders of the ancient 

Hence Babylonia and Egypt are at once suggested, 
and the suggestion is not rendered a less probable 
one when we remember that both these peoples 
studied and utilised astronomy at least some 8,000 
years ago. 

But here we are dealing with two peoples. It is 
more than probable that they both were associated more 
or less near the origin with one race, the ideas of which 
permeated both civilisations. 

I have it on the highest authority, that of Dr. Budge, 
that in Babylonia there were originally the Sumerians 
and the Semites. The primitive race which conquered 
the Egyptians seems to have been connected with the 
former as regards civilisation, and with the latter as 
regards some aspects of the Egyptian language. 

This race was Semitic, and as the pyramids, built 
some 6,000 years ago, are a proof of the interaction of the 
two civilisations at that time, for the Easter festival 
celebrated on the banks of the Nile came from the 
valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, we may omit the 
pre-Semites from our consideration. 

There is other evidence that the connection between 
the Semites and Egyptians was close astronomically, 
so that any Semitic influence in later times or in 
other lands would be sure to show traces of this 


connection, and in temple worship it would be traceable. 
While the carefully oriented Egyptian temples built 
of stone remain and have been carefully studied, 
those erected in the centres of Semitic power, built of 
unbaked brick, have for the most part disappeared, but 
for the most part only ; some stone structures remain, 
but in regard to them there has been no Lepsius ; of 
their orientation, too, little is known. This is all the 
more to be regretted since Layard, in addition to many 
E. and N. buildings found at Nimrood, noted at the 
mound of Kouyunjik, the site of Nineveh, lat. 36 20' N., 
that Sennacherib's palace, which appears to have been 
built round a central temple, was oriented to the May 
year. 1 (Az. N. 68 30' E. :=Dec. N. 16.) 

Now, calling in the Babylonians as the originators of 
what went on in Britain 4,000 years ago may seem 
to some to be far-fetched in more ways than one ; 
but the Babylonians were a remarkable people ; accord- 
ing to some they originated all the voyaging of the early 
world, though other authorities point out that the first 
ships in the eastern seas must have been Indian. 

Iheririg 2 adduces a series of facts which indicate 
clearly that the Babylonians carried on .maritime 
navigation at least as early as about 3500 B.C. But, 
whatever this time was, the Semites and Egyptians had 
already a rich culture behind them at a time when the 
Aryans, whatever or wherever their origin, had not made 
themselves a place in the world's history. An ancient 

-L / 

1 This I gather from the plan prepared by Lieut. Glascott, R.N., 
who apparently accompanied Mr. Layard. He indicates the true 
north point with a sailor's precision in such matters. (See p. 305). 

2 Evolution of the Aryan, Translation by Drucker, 32. 



sea connection between Babylonia and India may 
explain the similarity of the British and Indian 

Some facts with regard to long distance ancient 
travel are the following. Our start-point may be that 
Gudea, a Babylonian king who reigned about 2500 
B.C., brought stones from Melukhkha and Makan, that 
is, Egypt and Sinai (Budge, History of Egypt, ii., 
130). Now these stones were taken coastwise from 
Sinai to Eridu, at the head of the Persian Gulf, 
a distance of 4,000 miles, and it is also said that 
then, or even before then, there was a coast-wise 
traffic to and from Malabar, where teak was got to 
be used in house- and boat-building. The distance 
from Eridu coastwise to Malabar, say the present 
Cannanore, is 2,400 miles. 

The distance, coastwise, from Alexandria to Sand- 
wich, where we learn that Phoenicians and others 
shipped the tin extracted from the mines in Cornwall, 
is only 5,300 miles, so that a voyage of this length 
was quite within the powers of the compassless navi- 
gators of 2500 B.C. 

The old idea that the ancient merchants could 
make a course from Ushant to, say, Falmouth or 
Penzance need no longer be entertained ; the cross- 
ing from Africa to Gibraltar and from Cape Grisnez 
to Sandwich were both to visible land, i.e. coastwise. 
The cliffs on the opposite land are easily seen on a 
clear day. 

Hence it would have been easier before the days 
of astronomical knowledge and compasses to have 
reached England, and therefore Ireland and the Orkneys, 


than to get to some of the islands in the Mediter- 
ranean itself. 1 

It is seen then that it is possible that Semites 
mis;ht have built our stone monuments between 2000 


and 1200 B.C., while it is quite certain that the 
Aryans did not build them, if the archaeologists are not 
widely wrong in their dates. 

Let us, then, begin our inquiries by considering the 
information available with regard to the Semites. Let 
us see in the first instance whether they had stone 
monuments, and sacred trees and sacred wells ; a 
system of \vorship ; and whether this worship was con- 
nected with the sun and stars. 

It is fortunate for us in this matter that one of the 
most fully equipped scholars which the last century 
produced, Eobertson Smith, devoted his studies for many 
years to The Religion of the Semites, and information on 
the points raised is to our hand ; all I need do is to 
give as shortly as possible a statement of the various 
conclusions he had reached on the points to which our 
attention rnay in the first instance be confined. I quote 
from his book The Religion of the Semites. 

The Semites include the Babylonians, whc spoke a 
Semitic dialect, for there were Sumerian speaking peoples 
among them, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, Arabs 
and Aramaeans, who in ancient times occupied the 

L The prevalence of solstitial customs in Sardinia and Corsica, with 
apparently no trace of the May year, tends to support this view, 
which is also strengthened by the fact that the solstitial customs in 
Morocco are very similar to those we read of in Britain : the May 
year is unnoticed, and there is a second feast at Easter (March 16th). 
See Westermarck in Folk-lore, vol. xxi., p. 27. 

R 2 



fertile lauds of Syria, Mesopotamia and Irak from the 
Mediterranean coast to the base of the mountains of 
Iran and Armenia. They also embrace the inhabitants 
of the great Arabian peninsula, which is believed to- 
have been the centre of dispersion. 

The ordinary artificial mark of a Semitic sanctuary 
was the sacrificial pillar, cairn, or rude altar (p. 183); 
it was a fixed point where, according to primitive rule, 
the blood of the offering was applied to the sacred 
stones ; or where a sacred tree, as we shall see presently, 
was hung with gifts ; the stones and tree being symbols 
of the God (p. 151). 

Further, it is certain that the original altar among 
the northern Semites was a great unhewn 1 stone, or a 
cairn, at which the blood of the victim was shed (p. 185), 

Monolithic pillars or cairns of stones are frequently 
mentioned in the more ancient parts of the Old Testament 
as marking sanctuaries ; Shechem, Bethel, Gilead, Gilgal, 
Mizpah, Gibeon, and En-Rogel are referred to (p. 186). 

There is evidence that in very early times the sanctuary 
was a cave (p. 183). The obvious successors of a natural 
cave are, (l) an artificial cave made in the earth like 
the natural one, and (2) a model or representation of a 
cave built of stone, with a small entrance which would 
be barred, and covered over with earth, thus protecting 
the priests from wild animals and the weather. 

The dolmens and cromlechs which are found in the 
Semitic area where there are stones doubtless had this 

1 And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build 
it of hewn stone : for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast 
polluted it. Exodus, xx., 25. 


The use of a cave was probably borrowed both by the 
Egyptians and Greeks (there is a cave, for instance, at 
Eleusis) from the Semites. 

In later times, when caves or their equivalents were 
no longer in vogue and temples were erected, they 
enclosed a Bit-ili or Beth-el, an upright stone, consecrated 
by oil. 1 

We next learn (pp. 170 and 183) that no Canaanite 
high place was complete without its sacred tree standing 
beside the altar. 

In tree-worship pure and simple as in Arabia, the 
tree is adored at an annual feast (? May), when it is 
hung with clothes and women's ornaments (p. 169). 

The tree at Mecca to which offerings are made is 
spoken of as a " tree to hang things on." 

The references to "groves" given in the Bible as asso- 
ciated with temple worship are misleading, "groves" 
being a wrong translation of the word Asherah, which was 
a pole made of wood which the Jews adopted from the 
Canaanites. It was ornamented and perhaps draped, and 
was most probably originally a tree. It may have been 
used in the " high places " because single trees would not 
grow there in the East any more than on the moors 
in Devon and Cornwall. 

The antiquity of this emblem is proved by Smith's 
statement (p. 171) that in an Assyrian monument from 

1 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that 
he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil 
upon the top of it. 

And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house ; 
and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto 
thee. Genesis, xxviii., 18, 22. 


Khorsabad an ornamental pole is shown beside a 
portable altar. " Priests stand before it engaged in an 
act of worship and touch the pole with their hands or 
perhaps anoint it with some liquid substance." 

The draping of the tree seems to be proved by the pas- 
sao-e which suggested the mistranslation to me before I 


wrote to some Hebrew scholars among my friends who 
allowed me to consult them. The passage is as follows 
(II. Kings, xxiii., 6, 7) : 

" And he brought out the grove from the house of 
the Lord, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, 
and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it 
small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the 
graves of the children of the people. 

" And he brake down the houses of the Sodomites, that 
were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove 
hangings for the grove." 

To show how little variation there was in the Semitic 
practices to those recorded in British folklore I may 
state that one of my friends one of the revision 
committee informed me that his impression was that 
the Asherah was furnished with pegs or hooks, so that 
the garments, &c., might be easily hung on it. 

I next come to the sacred waters. A sacred foun- 
tain, as well as the sacred tree, was a common symbol 
at Semitic sanctuaries (p. 183). Nevertheless, they 
\vere sometimes absent, the main place being given 
to altar worship. Further, Robertson Smith was of 
opinion that this altar worship did not originate with 
tree [?or water] worship (p. 170); but still, sacred 
wells are among the oldest and most ineradicable 


objects of reverence among all the Semites, and were 
credited with oracular powers (pp. 128, 154). The 
fountain or stream was not a mere adjunct to the 
temple, but was itself one of the principal sacra of 
the spot (p. 155). 

Undoubtedly there were ordeals among other things 
at these wells (p. 163). One case is given in Num- 
bers, v., 17, where the words "holy water" occur, and 
other water " that causeth the curse " is referred to. 
Ordeal by water is not unknown among British cus- 

It is interesting to note that special sanctity was 
attached to groups of seven wells (p. 167), and that 
one such group was called Thorayga = Pleiades (p. 153). 1 
We may gather from this that one of the most sacred 
times for Semitic worship was at the May festival, 
marked by the rising of the Pleiades. 

Although I do not find many references in Robertson 
Smith's book as to great festival days, there is other 
evidence which shows that the May festival was the 
greatest, and represented New Year's Day. I have 
already shown that the May-November year is the 
one recognised in the present Turkish, Armenian and 
I believe Persian calendars (p. 29). As this was the 
year used at Thebes 3200 B.C., we may take it that 
at that time it was universal in W. Asia and the 
adjacent lands. The Jews afterwards adopted the 
equinoctial year. 

It seems highly probable that we may learn from 

1 Herodotus, iii., 8, refers to an Arabian rite in which seven stones 
are smeared with blood among peoples whose only gods were 
Dionysos and Urania, whom they called Orotalt and Alilat. 


many passages in the Old Testament what the Semitic 
temple practices were generally. There were sacrifices 
of men and beasts, burnt offerings, and lighting of 
fires; through which the children were made to pass. 

I give some references to these fire practices. 

" And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass 
through the fire to Molech." Leviticus, xviii., 21. 

" There shall not be found among you any one that 
maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the 
fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, 
or an enchanter, or a witch, 

" Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, 
or a wizard, or a necromancer." Deuteronomy, xviii., 
10, 11. 

" He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, 
and made his son to pass through the fire." II. Kings, 
xvi., 3. 

" And they caused their sons and their daughters to 
pass through the fire, and used divination and enchant- 
ments." II. Kings, xvii., 17. 

" And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of 
the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his 
son or his daughter to pass through the fire to 
Molech." II. Kings, xxiii., 10. (See also 4 and 5.) 

Fire sacrifices which were interpreted as offerings of 
fragrant smoke were prevalent among the settled Semites 
(p. 218). Sacrificial fat was burned on the altar. Smith 
remarks : " This could be done without any fundamental 
modification of the old type of sacred stone or altar 
pillar, simply by making a hollow on the top to 
receive the grease, and there is some reason to think 
that fire-altars of this simple kind, which in certain 


Phoenician types are developed into altar candlesticks, 
are older than the broad platform altar proper for 
receiving a burnt offering" (p. 364). 

With regard to the worship of the sun and stars 
by the Semites, we read that the Semite addressed his 
God as Baal or Bal. The simple form of Baal was 
the sun. 1 

By the Semites the stars w r ere, on account of their 
movements, held to be alive ; they were therefore 
gods, and it was in consequence of this widespread 
belief that the stars were worshipped (p. 127). The 
worshippers " burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, to 
the moon and to the planets, and to all the hosts of 
heaven" (II. Kings, xxiii., 5). Job congratulated himself 
that " his heart had not been enticed, nor his mouth 
kissed his hand, if he beheld the sun when it shined, 
or the moon walking in her brightness " (Job, xxxi., 
26-27). The worship of the morning star as a god 
is the old Semitic conception (Isa., xiv., 12), " Lucifer 
son of the Dawn." 

We gather from the later practices of the Saracens 
that the sacrifices to the morning star could not be 
made after the star had disappeared in the dawn. 2 
The God had to be in the presence of the worshippers. 

The Semitic worship was generally carried on in 
'" high places " ; in the Babylonian temples built in a 
river valley the " high places " were secured by build- 
ing towers with the sanctuary on the top. 

1 Sayce, Babylonians and Assyrians, p. 234. 

2 Nili op. quaedam (Paris, 1639), pp. 28, 117, quoted by Robertson 
Smith, p. 151. 


These high places were necessary because exact obser- 
vations of the risings of the heavenly bodies formed part 
of the ceremonial, and a clear horizon was absolutely 
imperative. That this was generally understood and 
acted on is well evidenced by the fact that in the Old 
Testament the mention of High places is nearly always 
associated with the references to the religion of the 
Canaanites and other Semitic nations as if the high 
places were among the most important points in it. 

Other arguments may be founded upon linguistic 
considerations. Prof. J. Morris Jones l finds that 
the syntax of Welsh and Irish differs from that of 
other Aryan languages in many important respects, e.g. 
the verb is put first in every simple sentence. Prof. 
Ehys had suggested that these differences represented 
the persistence in Welsh and Irish of the syntax of a 
pre-Aryan dialect, and as the anthropologists hold that 
the pre-Aryan population of these islands came from 
North Africa, it seemed to Prof. Jones that that was 
the obvious place to look for the origin of these syn- 
tactical peculiarities. He finds the similarities between 
Old Egyptian and neo-Celtic syntax to be astonishing ; 
he shows that practically all the peculiarities of Welsh 
and Irish syntax are found in the Hamitic languages. 

This conclusion practically implies that the bulk of 
the population of these islands, before the arrival of 
the Celts, spoke dialects allied to those of North 
Africa. The syntactical peculiarities must have repre- 

" Pre-Aryan Syntax in Insular Celtic," in the Welsh People, by 
Rhys and Brynmor-Jones, pp. 617-641. 

XXII (JKUjriJN Ub tfKlilbrt WUKbttir 251 

sented the habits of thought of the people, which sur- 
vived in the Celtic vocabulary imposed upon them. 

These conclusions were not known to me when I 
began to see the necessity of separating the cult of 
the June from that of the May year, and the 
identity of the conclusions drawn from astronomical 
and linguistic data is to me very striking and also 
suggests further special inquiries. 

It is also worth while to state that the Semites, in- 
cluding the Hebrews and Phoenicians, did not burn their 
dead. Finally, I may quote a remark made by General 
Pitt-Rivers in the paper already referred to : " If we do 
not accept one old civilization as the origin of the various 
practices, then we must assume accidental origins in each 



I PROPOSE in this chapter to bring into juxtaposition 
the various British and Semitic-Egyptian practices which 
we have so far considered. 

I confess I am amazed at the similarities we have 
come across in the first cast of the net ; we have 
found so much that is common to both worships in 
connection with all the points we considered separately. 
I will, for convenience, deal with the various points 

1. The cult of sacred stones or cairns. 

The only objection which, so far as I can see, may 
be raised to these practices being absolutely common 
is the idea among many British archaeologists that 
the cairns, in which term I include chambered barrows 
or dolmens and their skeletons, the cromlechs and stone 
passages, were set up for burial and not for worship. 
This idea has arisen because some of them have been 
used for burials. But I cannot accept this argument, 
because since the burials might have taken place at 
any time subsequent to their erection they prove 


nothing as to the reason of the erection ; arid further, 
if these chambered cairns were meant for burials, there 
should be burials in all of them, and yet there are 
none in the most majestic of them r all, Maeshowe. 

Let us consider a few facts in relation to the Semitic 
use of cairns referred to on p. 244. 

That the cromlechs found both in Britain and Syria- 
there are 780 in Ireland and 700 in Moab are the 
remains of chambered cairns is pretty clear from the 
evidence brought forward by Borlase. 1 

Mr. John Bell, of Dundalk, disinterred over sixty 
cromlechs from cairns in Ulster. All dolmens were- 
covered by tumuli according to Mr. Bell and Mr. Lukis. 
Monuments called cairns in the earliest Ordnance 
Surrey have been marked dolmens in subsequent 
surveys (e.g. Townland of Leana in Clare) because the 
earth covering the stones had disappeared in the 

Among the evidences of natural and artificial caves 
preceding cairns which replaced them are the twenty-four 
caves which have been explored in France (op. cit., 
p. 5.68). 2 

Borlase points out with regard to the Irish dolmens 

1 Dolmens of Ireland, p. 426. 

" France, indeed, furnishes us with a stepping-stone, as it were,, 
between the natural cave and the dolmen in certain artificial cavea 
which offer comparison both with the former and the latter .... the 
natural cave was scooped out into a large chamber or chambers either 
by the swirling of water pent up in the limestone or other yielding rock 
and finding its way out through some narrow crevice. The ground 
plan and section, therefore, is that of an alle'e couverte with a. 
vestibule .... the artificial cave is modelled on the natural one, and 
yet bears, as M. Mortillet points out, a close resemblance to the 


that large tumuli were not essential ; all that was 
necessary was that the walls of the cell or crypt should 
he impervious to the elements and to w T ild animals. 
A creep or passage communicating with the edge of the 
mound is common to Ireland, Wales, Portugal and 
Brittany (op. cit., p. 428). 

The facts that the cairns so often had their open 
ends facino 1 the N.E. or S.E., and that the west end 

O ' 

was generally higher, like the naos trilithons at Stone- 
heuge, must be borne in mind. 

Most of what we know of earliest man has been 
obtained from their lives in caves ; what they ate, the 
contemporary fauna and their art are thus known to 
us, but caves have not been considered as tombs, though 
men have died and left their remains in them. 

In the case of a dolmen, however, an artificial cave, 
as we shall see, the possibility of people living in them 
appears never to have been considered seriously, and 
the tomb theory has led to bad reasoning and forced 

When burials are absent it has been suggested that 
" owing to some peculiarity of the soil, the entire of 
the human remains have become decomposed, only the 
imperishable stone implements entombed with the body 
remaining." 1 

Mr. Spence has pointed out the extreme improbability 
of Maeshowe being anything but a temple, and I may 
now add on the Semitic model. There were a large 
central hall and side rooms for sleeping, a stone door 
which could have been opened or shut from the inside, 
and a niche for a guard, janitor or hall porter ! So 

Wandle, Remains of Prehistoric Age in England, p. 147. 


high an authority as Colonel Leslie has pointed out 
that neither Maeshowe, New Grange and Dowth on 
the Boyne, nor Gavr Innis in Brittany bear any 
internal proof of being specially prepared as tombs. 1 

There is another point connected with these dolmens 
and cromlechs. An origin in the Semitic area easily 
explains why in Asia and Britain the dolmens are 
so alike, down to small details, such as the perfora- 
tion of one of the side stones. Boiiase has remarked 
also upon the similarity of Indian and Irish dolmens 
(op. cit., p. 755), similar holes also being common to 
them. The curious concentric circles, &c., found on 
some dolmen stones are common to Assyrian vessels. 2 

The most philosophical study of this question I have 
seen 3 certainly suggests that much light may be expected 
from this source. 

Part of the cult of the sacred stones w T as the ceremony 
of anointing them. Robertson Smith (p. 214) gives 
us the meaning and history of anointing among the 
Semites, and notes its continuation from Jacob's pouring 
oil on sacred stones at Bethel, through the time of 
Pausanias to that of the Pilgrims of the fourth century A.D. 

The anointing of stones was certainly carried on in 

1 It is interesting to point out in relation to the fact that 
different swarms successively introduced the May and solstitial years 
that the " sleeping rooms " of the May year cairns at New Grange 
ai'e about 3 feet square, while at the solstitial Maeshowe, built very 
much later, the dimensions are 6 feet X 4i feet. There were differ- 
ences of sleeping posture in the old days among different peoples as 
well as different methods of burial. 

2 Borlase, p. 617. 

3 " The Builders and the Antiquity of our Cornish Dolmens," by 
Rev. I). Gath Whitley (Journal R.I. Cornwall, No. 4). 


ancient times in Britain and Brittany. Baring-Gould 
tells us : l 

" Formerly the menhir was beplastered with oil and 
honey and wax, and this anointing of the stones was 
condemned by the bishops. In certain places the local 
clergy succeeded in diverting the practice to the 
Churches. There are still some in Lower Brittany whose 
exterior walls are strung with wax lines arranged in 
festoons and patterns. 

" In some places childless women still rub themselves 
against menhirs, expecting thereby to be cured of 
barrenness, but in others, instead, they rub themselves- 
against stone images of saints." 

When I visited the Cave of Elephanta in 1871 I was 
told that the barren women of Bombay visit the cave 
once a year and anoint the standing stone in the 
chief chamber. In Egypt they still rub their bodies on 
the Colossi. 

2. Sacred fires. 

Among the Semites the sacrificial fat was burned on 
the altar. And we have seen that " this could be done 
without any fundamental modification of the old type 
of sacred stone or altar pillar, simply by making a hollow 
on the top to receive the grease." 

Baring-Gould 3 has written on the question of 
sacrificial and sa*cred fires in ancient times in Britain, and 
points out that there still remain in some of our 
churches (in Cornwall, York and Dorset) the con- 
trivances now called cresset-stones used. They are 

1 Book of Brittany, p. 21. - History of the Semites, p. 364. 

3 Strange Survivals, p. 122. 


blocks of stone with cups hollowed out precisely as 
described by Robertson Smith. Some are placed in 
lamp-niches furnished with flues. 
On these he remarks (p. 122) : 

" Now although these lamps and 
cressets had their religious signi- 
fication, yet this religious signifi- 
cation was an afterthought. The 
origin of them lay in the necessity 
of there being in every place a 
central light, from which light 
could at any time be borrowed." 

FTG. 49. Cresset-stone, Lew- 

mi -i, f .-, -, , annick. From Baring- 
6. Hie CUlt 01 the Sacred tree. Gould's Strange Survivals. 

1 have shown that the sacred 

trees in Britain, whether rowan, thorn or mistletoe, 
were at their best at the times of the festivals at 
which they were chiefly worshipped. Mrs. J. H. 
Philpot, in her valuable book on " the sacred tree," 
gives us the names of some used in different countries ; 
it would be interesting to inquire whether the same con- 
sideration applies to them in the Semitic and other areas. 
There seems to be no doubt that the Semitic Asherah 
was the precursor of the British Maypole, even to its 
dressing of many coloured ribands, and from the May- 
pole customs we may infer something of the Semitic 
practices which have not come down to us. Even 
" Jack o' the Green " may eventually be traced to 
Al-Khidr (p. 29) of the old May festivals. 

4. The cult of the sacred well. 

Here we find only trifling differences. 





one is the use of pins in Britain. If we knew more 
about the Asherah with its hooks this difference might 

It has been pointed out by several authors that the 
worship of wells and water would be most likely to 
arise in a dry and thirsty land. 

5. The time of the chief festivals. 

Here we find beyond all question that the festival 
times were the same to begin with. May is the chief 
month both in West Asia and West Europe. 

It was not till a subsequent time that June and 
December were added in Egypt and Britain, and April 
and September among the Jews. 

6. The characteristics of the festivals. 

Here again is precise agreement. The list I gave 
on p. 205 of what can be gathered from British folk- 
lore is identical with the statements as to Semitic 
practices which I quoted from Robertson Smith in the 
last chapter. 

7. The worship in high places. 

Absolute identity ; and from this we can gather that 
the ancient condition of the high places wherever 
selected for temple worship was as treeless as it is 
now ; otherwise the observations of sun- and star-rise 
and -set would be greatly interfered with. 

Of course, there may have been " groves " associated 
with, but away from, sanctuaries in both Semitic and 
British areas ; but it is not impossible that much which 
has been written on this subject with regard to Britain 


and the "Druids" may have been suggested in part by 
the erroneous translation of Asherah to which I have 
referred. It has also been stated that an early tran- 
scriber who, in error, substituted lucus for locus may 
also be held partly responsible, even if lucus does not 
mean a clearing in a grove, as some maintain. 

8. The god or gods worshipped. 

The year-gods in Babylonia and Egypt respectively 
were Baal and Thoth. It is worth while to inquire 
whether either name has made its appearance as a 
loan-word in the traditions of Western Europe. 

About Baal there can be no question as to the 
coincidence, whether accidental, as some philologists 
affirm, or not. 

We find Bel or Baal common to the two areas. Mr. 
Borlase informs us (op. cit., p. 1164) that in Western 
Europe Bel, Beal, Balor, Balder, and Phol, Fal, Fail 
are the equivalents of the Semitic Baal. Balus, indeed, 
is named as the first king of Orkney. A May worship 
is connected with all the above. Beltaine and many 
variants describe the fires lighted at the festival, and 
it is worthy of note that although this fire worship 
has been extended to the solstitial ceremonials in June, 
the name Baltaine has never been applied to it at that 
time except by writers who think that the term " mid- 
summer" may be applied indiscriminately to the begin- 
ning of May and the end of June. 

I next deal with the Egyptian year-god Thoth. In 
Greece he became Hermes, among the Romans Mercury. 
In this connection I can most usefully refer to Rhys's 
Hibbert Lectures and his chapter on the Gaulish 

s 2 


Pantheon. He tells us (p. 5) that "Mercury is the god 
with whom the monuments lead one to begin." There is 
also mention of a god Toutates or Teutates, and a 
Toutius, who might have been a public official (? priest 
of Toutates). Only Celtic or other later origins of the 
words are suggested ; it is not said whether the 
possible Egyptian root has been considered. 

We may even, I think, go further and ask whether 
some of the constellations were not figured as in Egypt, 
otherwise it is difficult to account for the horror of the 
black pig (p. 195) at Hallowe'en. The whole Egyptian 
story is told in my Dawn of Astronomy l in connection 
with the worship of Set, that is the stars visible at 
night, blotted out at dawn by the rising sun, or be- 
coming predominant after sunset. 

9. The worship of the sun and stars. 

Here also, as I have shown, is complete agreement. 
The same astronomical methods have been employed for 
the same purpose. The chief difference lies in the fact 
that by lapse of time the precessional movement caused 
different stars to be observed as clock stars or to herald 
the sunrise on the chief ceremonial days. 

1 Pp. 146, 215, and elsewhere. 



THE previous pages of this volume have apparently 
dealt with two distinct subjects ; the use of the British 
monuments on the orientation theory, and the folklore 
and tradition which enable us to get some glimpses into 
the lives, actions, habits and beliefs of the early in- 
habitants of these islands, and the region whence these 
early inhabitants had migrated. 

But although these subjects are apparently distinct, 
I think my readers will agree that the study of each 
has led to an identical result, namely, that in early 
times it was a question of the May year, and that the 
solstitial year was introduced afterwards. This was the 
chief revelation of the monuments when they were 
studied from the astronomical point of view. 

Without confirmation from some other sources this 
result might have been considered as doubtful, and the 
orientation theory might have been thought valueless. It 
has, however, been seen that folklore and tradition con- 
firm it up to the hilt. I think it may be said, therefore, 
that the theory I put forward in this book touching the 
astronomical use of our ancient temples is so far justified. 

The British monuments I had considered before this 
appeal to tradition was made were the circles at Stone- 


henge, Stenness, The Hurlers and Stanton Drew, and 
the avenues on Dartmoor. These were studied generally, 
the main special result being that to which I have re- 
ferred ; we not only found alignments to sunrise and 
sunset on the critical quarter-days of the May years, but 
we found alignments to the stars which should have 
been observed either at rising or setting to control the 
morning sacrifices. 

But this inquiry had left out of account several circles 
in south-west Cornwall, of which I had vaguely heard 
but never seen. When I had written the previous 
chapters showing how fully May-year practices are re- 
ferred to in the folklore of that part of the country, I 
determined to visit the circles, dealing with them as test- 
objects in regard to this special branch of orienta- 
tion. I had not time to make a complete survey ; this 
I must leave to others ; but with the help so readily 
afforded me, which I shall acknowledge in its proper 
place, I thought it possible in a brief visit to see 
whether or not there were any May-year alignments. In 
the following chapters I will give an account of the 
observations made, but before doing so, in order to prove 
how solid the evidence afforded by the Cornish monuments 
is, I will state the details of the local astronomical con- 
ditions depending upon the latitude of the Land's End 
region, N. 50. In the chapter containing some astrono- 
mical hints to archaeologists I referred (p. 122) to the 
solstice conditions for Stenness beyond John o' Groat's, 
because those conditions afforded a special case, the 
solstice being determined by the arrival of the sun at its 
highest or lowest declination, which happens on particular 
dates which recur each year. But with regard to the 


May year, during the first week of May the sun's 
declination is changing by over a quarter of a degree 
daily, so that we must not expect to find the declination 
of 16 20' (see p. 22) rigidly adhered to. 

As I have shown (p. 23), the sun's passage through this 
decimation four times on its annual path on the dates 
stated accurately divides the year into four equal parts. 
But this accuracy might have been neglected by the 
early observers, so that, for instance, the sun's position 
on the 4th or 8th of May instead of that on the 6th 
might have been chosen as being in greater harmony 
with the agricultural conditions at the place. 

The conditions of the sunrise from John o' Groat's to 
Land's End, 2' of the sun being visible above the sky- 
line, can be gathered from the following diagram : 

FIG. 50. Place of first appearance of the May sun, in British latitudes. 




The exact azimuths for this sunrise in the Land's End 
region (Lat. 50) in relation to the place of the sunrise 
when half the sun has risen, with a sea horizon, are 
shown in Fig. 51. 








S3 O 


P< O 
e8 e8 

C/D ^ 

-j- a; 

I- J 

ID ^. 

? "o 

N -S 1 

O 4) 




ONE of the best preserved circles that I know of is 
near Penzance. It is called the Merry Maidens l (Dawns- 
Maen), and is thus described by Lukis 2 (p. 1) : 

" This very perfect Circle, which is 75 feet 8 inches 
in diameter, stands in a cultivated field which slopes 
gently to the south. 

"It consists of 19 granite stones placed at tolerably 
regular distances from each other, but there is a gap 
on the east side, where another stone was most 
probably once erected. 

" Many of the stones are rectangular in plan at the 
ground level, vary from 3 feet 3 inches to 4 feet in 
height, and are separated by a space of from 10 to 12 

1 I may here remark that " 9 maidens " is very common as a name 
for a circle in Cornwall. It is a short title for 19 maidens. Lukis 
implies that Dawns-Maen once consisted of 20 stones. If all the 
circles followed suit it would be interesting to note if the present 
number of 19 is always associated with a gap on the eastern side. 
The " pipers " are, of course, the musicians who keep the maidens 
merry, as does the " blind fiddler " at Boscowen-un Circle. 

' 2 Prehistoric Stone Monuments, Cornwall. 


feet. There is a somewhat shorter interval between 
four of the stones on the south side. 

" In the vicinity of this monument are two mono- 
liths called the Pipers ; another called Goon-Rith ; a 
holed stone (not long ago there were two others) ; and 
several [5] Cairns." 

Lukis thus describes the " Pipers " : 

" Two rude stone pillars of granite stand erect, 317 
feet apart, and about 400 yards to the north-east of 
the Circle of Dawns-Maen. No. 1 is 15 feet high, 4 
feet 6 inches in breadth, and has an average thickness 
of 22 inches, and is 2 feet 9 inches out of the 
perpendicular. The stone is of a laminated nature, and 
a thin fragment has flaked off from the upper part. 
No. 2 is 13 feet 6 inches high, and is much split 
perpendicularly. At the ground level its plan in 
section is nearly a square of about 3 feet." 

Goon-Rith is next described : " No. 3 is naturally 
of a rectangular form in plan, and is 10 feet 6 inches 
in height. The land on which it stands is called 
Goon-Rith, or Red Downs. The upper part of the 
stone is of irregular shape." 

Borlase, in his History of Cornwall (1769), only 
mentions the circle, but W. C. Borlase, in his Ncenia, 
Cornubm (1872), gives a very rough plan including 
the stones before mentioned and several barrows, some 
of which have been ploughed up. 

At varying distances from the circle and in widely 
different azimuths are other standing stones, ancient 

O ' 

crosses and holed stones, while some of the barrows 
can still be traced. 

The descriptions of the locality given by Borlase 


and Lukis, however, do not exhaust the points of 
interest. Edmonds l writes as follows : 

" A cave still perfect ... is on an eminence in the 
tenement of Boleit (Boleigh) in St. Buryan, and about 
a furlong south-west of the village of Trewoofe (Trove). 
It is called the ' Fowgow,' and consists of a trench 6 
feet deep and 36 long, faced on each side with 
unhewn and uncemented stones, across which, to serve 
as a roof, long stone posts or slabs are laid covered 
with thick turf, planted with furze. The breadth of 
the cave is about 5 feet. On its north-west side, near 
the south-west end, a narrow passage leads into a 
branch cave of considerable extent, constructed in the 
same manner. At the south-west end is an entrance 
by a descending path ; but this, as well as the cave 
itself, is so well concealed by the furze that the whole 
looks like an ordinary furze break without any way 
into it. The direction of the line of this cave is about 
north-east and south-west, which line, if continued 
towards the south-west, would pass close to the two 
ancient pillars called the Pipers, and the Druidical 
temple of Dawns Myin, all within half of a mile." 

This fougou is situated on a hill on the other side 
of the Lamorna Valley, near the village of Castallack, 
and the site of the Roundago shown in the 1-inch 
Ordnance map. 

Borlase 2 says that many similar caves were to be 
seen "in these parts" in his time, and others had 
been destroyed by converting the stones to other uses. 

There is evidence that the circle conditions at the 
Merry Maidens were once similar to those at Stenness,. 

1 The Land's find District, p. 46. 2 Antiquities, p. 274. 


Stanton Drew, the Hurlers, Tregaseal and Botallack, 
that is that there was more than one, the numbers 
running from 2 to 7. Mr. Horton Bolitho, without 
whose aid in local investigations this chapter in all 
probability would never have been written, in one 
of his visits came across " the oldest inhabitant," 
who remembered a second circle. He said, " It was 
covered with furze and never shown to antiquarians " ; 
ultimately the field in which it stood was ploughed up 
and the stones removed. It is to prevent a similar 
fate happening to the "Merry Maidens" themselves 
that Lord Falmouth will not allow the field in 
which they stand to be ploughed, and all antiquarians 
certainly owe him a debt of gratitude for this and 
other proofs of his interest in antiquities. Mr. 
Bolitho carefully marked the site thus indicated on a 
copy of the 2 5 -inch map. I shall subsequently show 
that the circle which formerly existed here, like the 
others named, was located on an important sight-line. 

Mr. Horton Bolitho was good enough to make 
a careful examination of the barrows A and B of 
Borlase. 1 In A (S. 69 W.) he found a long stone 
still lying in the barrow, suggesting that the barrow 
had been built round it, and that the apex of the 
barrow formed a new alignment. In B there is 
either another recumbent long stone or the capstone 
of a dolmen. This suggests work for the local anti- 

I should state that there may be some doubt about 
barrow A, for there are two not far from each other 
with approximate azimuths S. 69 W. and S. 64 W. 

1 Ncenia, p. 214. 




The destruction of these and other barrows was probably 
the accompaniment of the reclamation of waste lands 
and the consequent 
interference with 
antiquities which 
in Cornwall has 
mostly taken place 
since 1800. 

But it did not 
begin then, nor has 
it been confined to 
barrows. Dr. Bor- 
lase, in his parochial 
memoranda under , 

date September 29, 
1752, describes a 
monolith 20 feet 
above ground, and 
planted 4 feet in it, 
the "Men Peru" 
(stone of sorrow) 
in the parish of 
Constantine. A far- 
mer acknowledged 
that he had cut it 
up, and had made 
twenty gate-posts 
out of it. 

My wife and I 
visited the Merry 
Maidens at Easter, 
1905, for the pur- 



pose of making a reconnaissance. Mr. Horton Bolitho 
and Mr. Cornish were good enough to accompany us. 

On my return to London I began work on the 
2 5 -inch Ordnance map, and subsequently Colonel R. C. 
Hellard, R.E., director of the Ordnance Survey, was 
kind enough to send me the true azimuths of the 
Pipers. In October, 1905, Mr. Horton Bolitho and 
Captain Henderson, whose help at the Hurlers I have 
already had an opportunity of acknowledging, made 
a much more complete survey of the adjacent standing 
stones and barrows. 

In this survey they not only made use of the 
2 5 -inch map, but of the old plan given by W. C. 
Borlase dating from about 1870. Although the out- 
standing stones shown by Borlase remain, some of 
the barrows indicated by him have disappeared. 

In January, 1906, my wife and I paid other visits 
to the monuments, and Mr. Horton Bolitho was 
again good enough to accompany us. Thanks to him 
permission had been obtained to break an opening in 
the high wall-boundary which prevented any view 
along the " Pipers " sight-line. I may here add that 
unfortunately in Cornwall the field boundaries often 
consist of high stone walls topped by furze, so that 
the outstanding stones once visible from the circles 
can now no longer be seen from them ; another 
trouble is that from this cause the angular height of 
the sky-line along the alignment cannot be measured 
in many cases. 

I will now proceed to refer to the chief sight-lines 
seriatim. The first is that connecting the circle which 
still exists with the site of the ancient one. On this 

xxv THE 


line exactly I found four points, a barrow (L) which 
Borlase had missed (further from the circle than his 
barrow A), the site, the present circle, and the 
fougou ; azimuth from centre of circle N. 64 E. 
and S. 64 W. This is the May -year line found at 
Stonehenge, Stenness, the Hurlers and Stanton Drew. 

Tn connection with this there is another sight-line 
which must not be passed over ; from the circle the 
bearing of the church of St. Burian is about N. 64 W. ; 
like the fougou it is situated on a hill, and near 
it are ancient crosses which I suspect were menhirs 
first and crosses afterwards. 1 However this may be, 
we see in this azimuth of 64 three times repeated 
that the May and August sunrises and sunsets and 
the February arid November sunsets were provided for. 

With regard to the other sight-lines I will begin 
with that of the Pipers, as it is quite obviously 
connected with the eastern circle only ; the stones 
could not have been seen from the other on account 
of rising ground. The barrow shown in this direction 
by Borlase has now entirely disappeared, and the 
earth has evidently been spread over the surrounding 

1 In A.D. 658 a council assembled at Nantes decreed: "As in 
remote places and in woodlands there stand certain stones which the 
people often worship, and at which vows are made, and to which 
oblations are presented we decree that they be all cast down and 
concealed in such a place that their worshippers may not be able to 
find them." 

" Now the carrying out of their order was left to the country 
parsons, and partly because they had themselves been brought up to 
respect these stones, and partly because the execution of the decree 
would have brought down a storm upon their heads, they contented 
themselves with putting a cross on top of the stones." Book of 
Brittany, by Baring-Gould, p. 20. 


field; its surface is therefore higher than formerly, so 
that when the opening was made in the wall the top 
of the nearest piper could not be seen from the centre 
of the circle ; an elevation of about 2 feet from the 
ground level was necessary. Walking straight from 
the circle to the first piper, the second piper was 
exactly in a line, though at a much lower level. This 
showed that the Ordnance values were not quite 
accurate, which was not to be wondered at as no 
direct observation had been possible. I therefore 
adopted the mean of the Ordnance values as the true 
azimuth : 

Piper 1. N. 37 58' 36" E. 
Piper 2. 38 52 36 

Mean 38 25 36 

The sky-line from the centre of the circle was defined 
by the site of the vanished barrow, angular elevation 
20', and it is highly probable that the function of the 
barrow when built was to provide a new sight-line when 
the star-rise place was no longer exactly pointed out by 
the piper line. 

With these data the star in question was Capella, dec. 
29 58' N., heralding the February sunrise, 2160 B.C. 

I next come to the famous menhir Goon-Kith. The 
conditions are as follows : from the circle Az. S. 81 35' 
W. Altitude of sky-line 34'. 

Concerning this alignment from the circle, it may be 
stated that it cuts across many ancient stones, including 
one resembling a rock basin or laver, and another either 
a holed stone or the socket of a stone cross. I suspect 


also the presence in old days of a holy well attached 
to the circle, for there is a pool of water in a depression 
which is shown in the 2 5 -inch map. 

I regard it as quite possible that we are here in 
presence of the remains of a cursus, an old via sacra, 
for processions between the circle and the monolith. 

I have not been able to find any astronomical use for 
this stone from the circle or from the site of the old 
one, but if we suppose it to have been used like the 
Barnstone at Stenness for observations over the circle its 
object at once becomes obvious. 

From the azimuth given, the declination of the star 
was 5 24' N. Now this was the position of the Pleiades 
B.c. 1960, when they would have warned the rising of 
the May sun. 

So that it is possible that the erection of the Pipers 
and of Goon-Rith took place at about the same time, and 
represent the first operations. 

The next alignment has an azimuth of S. 69 W. 
from the circle ; it would be the same within a degree 
from the site of the one which has disappeared ; altitude 
of sky-line 32'; this line is to a stone cross on rising 
ground, 1 doubtless a re-dressirig of an old menhir, and 
on the line nearer the circle are the remains of a barrow. 

With these data the star in question was Antares, 
dec. S. 13 18', heralding the May sunrise 1310 B.C. 

1 With regard to this Mr. Horton Bolitho has sent me the 
following note : " The rising ground here is called locally ' Lanine 
Hill ' (spelt Lanyon and pronounced Lanine) ; this is worth noticing, as 
it is the same name as the dolmen six or seven miles away from Boleit, 
and in the same district as the Men an Tol and Boskednan Circle, to 
say nothing of Lannion in Brittany. Lan signifies something sacred, 
the place of the saint, or belonging to the saint." 



There is another stone cross defining a line az. 
N. 11 45' E. from the circle, altitude of sky-line about 
the same as along the Piper azimuth; an intervening 
house prevents measurement. These values give us N. dec. 
38 46', referring to Arcturus warning the August sunrise 
in 1640 B.C. 

The three alignments already referred to, then, give 
us the warning stars for three out of the four quarter- 
days of the May year. 

There is still another stone cross, Az. N. 82 5' W., 
hills about 34'. This has no connection with the May 
year, but may refer to the equinoctial one. 

W. C. Borlase refers to several holed stones. The 
data for two of these, supplied by Capt. Henderson, are 
as follows : 

Az. Alt. of sky-line 

Stone in hedge N. of road ... S. 5033' E. ... 45' 
Stone, half still standing ... S. 79 25 W. ... 49 

Azimuths near these have been noted before at other 
circles, and it must not be forgotten that as the holed 
stones on my view were used for observation, these 
azimuths must be reversed, since it is probable that the 
observations were made over the circle. If this were so, 
then S.E. would be changed into N.W., and we should 
get N. 50 33' W. indicating the solstitial sunset. Simi- 
larly, S.AV. would become X.E., and we should have 
N. 79 25' E., possibly a Pleiades alignment. 

I have brought together in the following table all 
the sight-lines , so far referred to. Where the alti- 
tude of the sky-line has been measured it is marked 
with a *. 

T 2 




In the map the probable site of the second circle 
and the barrows have special marks attached to them. 
The numbers of the alignments in the table are also 
shown in the map. 


ment . 




Sun or Star. 




N. 1145'E. 


38 46' N. 

Arcturus (warn- 
ing August) 



Stone in road. 


N. 38 25' E. 


29 58' N. 

Capella (warn- 
ing February) 


The Pipers and 


N. 64 E. 


16 21 N. 

May year . . . 



S. 3822'N. 


30 27' S. 

Pipers line . . 

Barrow B. 


S. 64 W. 


16 26' S. 

May year (Feb- 
ber setting) 

Barrow L. 


S. 69 W. 


13 18' S. 

Antares (warn- 
ing May) 


Stone cross on 
hill and Bar- 
row A. 





Reversed line. 
Pleiades elev. 
$ (warning 





N. 64 W. 


16 N. 

May year (May 
eve setting) 

St. Buri a n 



LONG. 5 39' 25" w.) 

THERE are two circles situated on Truthwall Com- 
mon near to Tregaseal and not far from St. Just ; 
the one is nearly to the east of the other, and there 
are outstanding stones, including four holed stones, 
and several barrows. The eastern temple has a 
diameter of 69 feet, and includes, at the present time, 
nine erect and four prostrate stones ; the original 
structure seems to have contained twenty-eight stones 
according to Lukis. 

My wife and I visited the region in January, 1906, 
but previously to our going Mr. Horton Bolitho, 
accompanied by Mr. Thomas, whose knowledge of the 
local antiquities is very great, had explored the region 
and taught us what to observe. 

The chief interest appears to lie on the N.E. quad- 
rant, where, in addition to a famous longstone on a 
hill about a mile away, the nest of holed stones and 
several of the barrows are located. Carn Kenidjack, a 
famous landmark, lies to the north. 

Of the two circles, I confined my attention almost 
exclusively to the eastern one, as the other is in a 


fragmentary condition, though it is still traceable. It 
is hidden almost entirely from the eastern circle by 
a modern hedge. 

Mr. Horton Bolitho, who accompanied us in January, 
has again visited the spot, with Mr. Thomas, for the 
purpose of further exploration, and determining the 
angular height of the sky-line along the different 
alignments, which I have plotted from the 6-inch and 
25-inch maps. My readers will therefore see that my 
part of the work has been a small one, and that they 
are chiefly indebted to those I have named. 

No theodolite survey has as yet been made for deter- 
mining the azimuths and the height of the hills. The 
following approximate azimuths have been determined 
by myself from a 25-inch map, and the elevations by 
Mr. Horton Bolitho by means of a miner's dial. 

Alignments. Azimuth. Elevation. 

1. Apex of Cam N. 12 8' E. . . 4 0' 

2. Barrow 800' distant .... N. 20 8 E. 

3. Two barrows 900' distant . . N. 50 8 E. 

4. Holed stones N. 53 20 E. 

5. Longstone N. 66 38 E. 

6. Stone ... N. 76 13 E. 

3 50 

1 50 

1 15 

2 10 

The earn referred to in the above table is Cam 
Kenidjack, called "the hooting cairn." The rocks on 
the summit, in which there is a remarkable depression, 
are still by local superstition supposed to emit evil 
sounds by night. 

Of the sight-lines studied so far, those to and from 
the Longstone and the holed stones seem the most 
important. The Longstone, 1 1^ miles to the N.E., is 
a monolith 10 feet high on the western side of a 

1 In Cornwall this is the name generally given to a monolith. 





hill ; it is visible from the circle though furze has 
grown round and partly hidden it. 

The meanings of the various alignments seem to be 
as follows : 


\pex of Cam 


eel. '. 



Arcturus . . 

. 2330 






Barrow 800' distant . . . . 
Two barrows 900' distant . . 
Holed stones . . 




? Solstitial 

. 1970 





Mav sun 


Stone . . . 



Pleiades . 



Kegarding the possible solstitial alignments, the 
declinations obtained may be neglected until the 
azimuths and angular heights of the hills have been 
determined with a good theodolite. A change of 
10' in the angular elevation, and hence about that 
in the resulting declination, would bring the date 
given by the barrows to about 2000 B.C. 

The position of the Longstone is well worthy of 
attention. Several very fine monuments which mark 
the surrounding horizon are visible from it in azimuths 
with which other monuments have made us familiar. 
They are as follows : 

Alignment. Az. Hills. 

Longstone to Men-an-tol N. 50 30' E. 34' 

,, Nine Maidens (Boskednan). N. 54 E. 10 

,, W. Lan3"on Quoit N. 67 E. 00 

,, Lanyon Quoit N. 72 45 E. 

These values, of which the angular heights of the 
hills were determined approximately from the contours 
on the 1-inch Ordnance map, lead us to the following 
declinations : 

Alignment. Decl. Star. Date. 

Longstone to Men-an-tol 24 7' N. Solstitial sun. 

,, Nine Maidens (Boskednan) 22 37 N. ,, 

W. Lanyon Quoit 14 3 N. May sun. 

,, Lanyon Quoit 10 30 N. Pleiades . . 1030 B.C. 




The May-sun alignment, it may be noted, differs 
from that from the circle. The heights of hills when 
determined may give us the same solar declination ; 
that now used gives the declination for April 28 and 
August 15 in our present calendar. 

Regarding the alignment on Lanyon Quoit, it need 
only be pointed out that the Pleiades date obtained 
is some 200 years after the date obtained for the 


analagous alignment from the circle, showing that if 
these two monuments the Tregaseal circle and the 
Longstone have any relationship, the removal to the 
high plain, now known as Woon Gumpus and Boswen 
Commons, was an afterthought improvement. 

I next come to the holed stones, not only the nest 
of them not far from the circle, but the famous 
Men-an-tol itself. 

I had heard before going to Tregaseal that the four 
holed stones shown on the Ordnance map had been 
knocked down and set up again (not necessarily in 
their old places) two or three times. Mr. Horton 
Bolitho and Mr. Thomas, however, in their examination 
were convinced that the largest of them has never 
been moved. They also express the belief that the 
others are not more than a foot or so from their 
original positions, and that this change is only due 
to their re-erection by Mr. Cornish after they had 
fallen down. So far I have heard nothing of the 
direction of the hole in the stone which retains its 
original position. 

Another interesting matter is that the explorers in 
question were able to trace an ancient stone alignment 
from the circle to the holed stones. 




I have long held that these holed stones were 
arrangements for determining an alignment. The 
famous Odin stone at Stenness, long since disappeared, 

was, if we may trust the very definite statements made 
about its position, used to observe the Barnstone in one 
direction and the chief circle in the other. 


The azimuths suggest that theodolite measures may 
show that the Tregaseal stones might have been used 
in the same way ; they, the Longstone and Lanyon 
Quoit, are in nearly the same straight line, the align- 
ment, holed stones to Longstone and Lanyon Quoit, 

Photo, by Lady Lockyer. 
FIG. 57. The Men-an-tol. 

being N. 67 E., so that the May sunrise may have 
been noted in this way. 

Several other monuments, e.q., Chun Castle and 

./ 7 

Cromlech, are to be found in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of the Tregaseal circle and the Longstone, 
but these will have to await further investigation as to 
their character and antiquity before any conclusions 
concerning their astronomical use can be deduced. 




Not only do we find in this neighbourhood the nest 
of holed stones to which I have referred, but the Men- 
an-tol, the most famous of them all. in England at all 

' o 

events. This, then, is the place to say a few words 
about them. I have before stated my opinion that 
these stones, instead of being used as slaughter stones 
or posts at whicji to tie up the victim before sacrifice, 

D. LOOK I Nii S..W. 
n, ( IMCD To J rr>6T 


FIG. 58. The Men-an-tol. Front view and section, from Lukis. 

or in any other similar employment, were really sight- 
ing stones to enable an alignment to be easily picked 
up. As such these were, of course, treated as sacred, 
and hence the folk-lore connected with them. This 
folk-lore seems to be most complete in the case of the 
famous stone of Odin at Stenness, so I condense Mr. 
Spence's account of it. 

Children brought to the stone at Beltaine and Mid- 
summer, after being carried sunwise round the holy 
well were passed through the hole as a protection against 
the powers of the evil one. Marriage ceremony con- 


sisted of joining hands through the hole, a vow held as 
sacred as the legal marriage of to-day. Pains in the 
head cured by inserting the head in the cavity, cure of 
palsy in children. Children and adults travelled many 
miles to secure relief in this way. 

At the Men-an-tol the curative effects could only be 
obtained by crawling through the aperture, which is of 
considerable size. 

As a rule, however, the aperture is much more 
restricted. The general size of the holed stone and the 
position of the aperture in it may be well gathered from 
the fact that almost all of them have been used for 
gateposts, and are now to be seen fulfilling that func- 
tion. In some cases the old special use can be inferred, 
but in others this is more difficult, as the stones have 
been shifted or slewed round, or the ancient monu- 
ment to which the sighting stone was directed has 

The astronomical origin of the Men-an-tol, which 
obviously has never been disturbed, is quite obvious. 
Fig. 56 (from Lukis) shews that it was arranged along 
the May year alignment, the advent of May and August, 
February and November being indicated by the shadows 
cast by the stones through the aperture on to the 
opposite ones. 

To the south-west the alignment for the February and 
November sunsets passes exactly over Chun Castle. 

The 'Tolmen" near G-week, Constantine, another 
famous holed stone 7 feet 9 inches high and with an 
aperture of 17 inches, is according to a magnetic bearing 
I took last Easter parallel to the Men-an-tol, and doubt- 
less was used for the same purpose. 


Boscawen-un, N. Lut. 50 5' 20" 

MY wife and I visited Boscawen-un on a pouring 
day, when it was impossible to make any observations. 
Mr. Horton Bolitho, who was with us, introduced us 
to the tenant of Boscawen-noon Mr. Hannibal Eowe 
who very kindly, in spite of the bad weather, took 
us to the circle and the stone cross to the N.E. of it. 

Lukis thus described this monument : 1 

" The enclosed ground on which this circle stands is 
uncultivated and heathy, and slopes gently to the 
south. Twenty years ago a hedge ran across it and 
bisected the circle. 

" This monument is composed of nineteen standing 
stones, and is of an oval form, the longer diameter 
being 80 feet and the shorter 71 feet 6 inches. One of 
the stones is a block of quartz 4 feet high, and the rest, 
which are of granite, vary from 2 feet 9 inches to 4 feet 
7 inches in height. On the west side there is a gap, 

1 Prehistoric Stone Monuments of the British Isles : Cornwall. 
W. C. Lukis. P. 1. 


whence it is probable that a stone has been removed. 
Within the area, 9 feet to the south-west from the 
centre, is a tall monolith, 8 feet out of the ground, 
which inclines to the north-east, and is 3 feet 3 inches 
out of the perpendicular. 

" In 1594 Camden describes this monument as con- 
sisting of nineteen stones, 12 feet from each other, with 
one much larger than the rest in the centre. It must 
have been much in the same condition then as 
now. As he does not say that the monolith enclosed 
within it was inclined, it is possible that it was upright 
nt that time. 

" Dr. Stukeley's supposition was that it originally 
stood upright, and that ' somebody digging by it to find 
treasure disturbed it.' 

" On the north-east side there are two fallen 
stones which Dr. Borlase, in 1749, imagined to have 
formed part of a Cromlech. It is more probable that 
they are the fragments of a second pillar which was 
placed to the north-east of the centre, and as far from 
it as the existing one is. There are instances, I believe, 
of two pillars occupying similar positions within a circle. 
One of the stones, that marked c in my plan, on the 
eastern side of the ring, was prostrate in the Doctor's 

" At a short distance to the south-east and south-west 
there are cairns, which have been explored." 

For this monument I have used the 6 -inch map, as 
the circle lies nearly at the centre, and all the out- 
standing stones are within its limits. The heights of 
the sky-line were measured by Mr. H. Bolitho at a 
subsequent visit with a miner's dial ; the resulting 





declinations have been calculated by Mr. Rolston. A 
theodolite survey will doubtless revise some of them : 







1. F. Stone cross . . N. 43 15' E. 2 7' +29 26' Capella . . 2250 
2. P. Fine menhir . . N. 53 30 E. 115 22 58 Solstitial sun 
3. B. Blind Fiddler . N. 54 30 E. 1 15 22 24 
4. Two large menhirs N. 66 50 E. 10 14 55 May sun . . 
5. Stone cross. ... N. 78 E. 1 0(?) + 8 8 Pleiades . . 1480 
6. Stone S. 66 30 E. 1 in -14 32 Novembftr sun 

7. Stone . . . 

N. 83 30 W. 10 (?) + 4 36 Pleiades 2120 



- _ O 







I gather from a report which Mr. H. Bolitho has 
been good enough to send me that modern hedges and 
farming operations have changed the conditions of the 
sight-lines, so that 1 and 3 are just invisible from the 
circle. This is by no means the only case in which the 
sighting stone has just been hidden over the brow of 
a hill and in which signals from an observer on the 
brow itself have been suggested, or a via sacra to the 
brow from the circle ; there are many monoliths in this 
direction which certainly never belonged to the circle. 

From the menhir P (No. 2) a fine view is obtained 
from N. to S. through E., so that the Blind Fiddler 
and the two large menhirs, and almost the circle, are 
visible. The curious shapes of 1 and 2 are noted, the 
east face vertical and the west boundary curved, like 
several sighting stones on Dartmoor. 

The circle itself has several peculiarities. In the 
first place, as shown by Lukis, it is not circular, 
the diameters being about 85 and 65 feet; the minor 
axis runs through the pillar stone in the centre 
and the " fallen stones " of Dr. Borlase towards the 
" stone cross " (which is no cross but a fine menhir) 
in Az. N. 43 15' E. This would suggest that this was 
the original alignment in 2250 B.C., but against this is 
the fact that the two stones of the circle between 
which the "fallen stones" lie are more carefully squared 
than the rest. It is true, however, that this might 
have been done afterwards, and this seems probable, 
for they are closer together than the other circle 

The one quartz stone occupies an azimuth S. 66 W. 
It was obviously placed in a post of honour. As a 

u 2 


matter of fact, from it the May sun was seen to rise 
over the centre of the circle. 

As there are both at Tregaseal and Boscawen-un 
alignments suggesting the observation of the summer 
solstice sunrise, it is desirable here to refer to the 
azimuths as calculated. For this purpose Fig. 60 has 
been prepared, which shows these for lat. 50 both at 
the present day and at the date of the restoration at 

My readers should compare this with Fig. 36, which 
o-ives the solstice sunrise conditions of Stenness in 


Lat. N. 59. Such a comparison will show how useless 
it is to pursue these inquiries without taking the latitude 
and the height of the sky-line into account. 

"Stripple Stones" (lat. 50 32' 50" N., long. 
4 37' W.) 

This is a very remarkable circle consisting of 5 erect 
and 11 prostrate stones situated on a circular level 
platform 175 feet in diameter on the boggy south 
slope of Hawk's Tor on the Hawkstor Downs in the 
parish of Blisland. The circle itself is about 148 feet 
in diameter, and the whole monument is, in Lukis's 
opinion, the most interesting and remarkable in the 
country. Surrounding the platform is a ditch 11 feet 
wide, and beyond that a penannular vallum about 10 
feet in width. The peculiarity of the vallum is that it 
has three bastions situate on the north-east, north-west, 
and east sides. It is to the north-east bastion that I 
wish to refer. 

Sighting from the huge monolith, which is now 


prostrate but originally marked the centre of the circle, 
along a line bisecting the arc of this bastion we find 
that the azimuth of the sight-line is N. 25 E. ; the 
angular elevation of the horizon from the 1-inch 
Ordnance map appears to be about 22'. From these 
values, proceeding as in the former cases, we find 

Alignment. Decl. Star. Date. 

Centre of circle to centre of bastion . 35 1' N. Capella 1:250 B.C. 

indicating that this alignment was formed for the same 
purpose as that which dominated the erection of the 
" Pipers." 

"Nine Maidens" (lat. 50 28' 20" N., long. 
4 54' 35" W.) 

In this monument we find a very different type 
from those considered previously. 

The Nine Maidens are simply 9 stones in a straight 
line 262 feet in length at the present day ; possibly, 
as suggested by Lukis, it may have extended origin- 
ally to the monolith known as " The Fiddler," 
situated some 800 yards away in a north-easterly 
direction. Measuring the azimuth of the alignment on 
Lukis's plan, and finding the horizon elevations from 
the 1-inch Ordnance map, we have the following: 

Az. Hills. Decl. Star. Date. 

N. 28 E. 0' 37 47' N. Capella 1480 B.C. 

It may be remarked that here we have a date 
for the use of Capella intermediate between those 
obtained for the "Pipers" and the " St ripple Stones" 



I HAVE now finished my astronomical reconnaissance 
of the British monuments. I trust 1 have shown how 
important it is that my holiday task should be followed 
by a serious inquiry by other workers so that the 
approximate values with which I have had to content 
myself for want of time may be replaced by others to 
which the highest weight can be attached. This means 
at each circle reversed observations with a six-inch 
theodolite and determination of azimuths by means of 
observations of the sun if necessary. 

I propose in the present chapter to bring together 
the general results already obtained in cases where the 
inquiry has been complete enough to warrant definite 
conclusions to be drawn. 

The first result to be gathered from the observations, 
and one to which I attach the highest importance, is 
that the practice, so long employed in Egypt, of deter- 
mining time at night by the revolution of a star round 
the pole, was almost universally followed in the British 
circles. This practice was to watch a first-magnitude 

CH. xxvni CLOCK-STARS 295 

star, which I named a " clock-star," l of such a declina- 
tion that it just dipped below the northern horizon so 
that it was visible for almost the whole of its path. 

Doubtless this same method of determining the flow 
of time during the night watches was also employed 
in Babylonia, 2 but there, alas ! the temples, or, in other 
words, the astronomical observatories, have disappeared, 
so that only the Egyptian practice remains for us to 


Let us, before we proceed, consider some results which 
have been gathered from the study of the Egyptian 

One of the earliest temples in Egypt concerning which 
we have historical references to check the orientation 
results was built to carry on these night observations 
at Denderah, lat. N. 26 10'. The star observed was 
a Ursae Majoris, decl. N. 58 52', passing 5 below the 
northern horizon ; date (assuming horizon 1 high) about 
4950 B.C., i.e., in the times of the Shemsu Heru, before 
Mena, as is distinctly stated in the inscriptions. 

After a Ursae Majoris had become circumpolar in the 
latitude of Denderah, y Draconis, which had ceased to be 
circumpolar, and so fulfilled the conditions to which I 
have referred, replaced it. Its declination was 58 52' N. 
about 3100 B.C., and it, therefore, could have been 
watched rising in the axis prolonged of the old temple 
in the time of Pepi, who restored it then, no doubt on 

1 Datvn of Astronomy, 1894, p. 343. 

2 Jensen, Kosmologie der Babyloniei\ p. 147. 


account of the advent of the new star, and is stated to 
have deposited a copy of the old plan in a cavity in 
the new walls. 

Here, then, we have two dates given by orientation 
of a clock-star temple entirely agreeing with the most 
recent views of Egyptian chronology. 

In Dr. Budge's History of Egypt (iii. 14) the story 
of the rebuilding of the temple at Annu by Usertsen 
(2433 B.C., Brugsch) is given from an ancient roll. Sup- 
posing this temple built parallel with the faces of the 
remaining obelisk, y Draconis would rise in its axis- 
prolonged 2500 B.C., proving that Usertsen did at Annu 
what Pepi previously did at Denderah, and that the 
same reason for restoration and even the same star 
were in question. 1 

When the clock-star ceased to be visible in the chief 
temple other subsidiary temples were subsequently built 
to watch it. Thus 7 Draconis was w r atched at Thebes 
from 3500 B.C. to the times of the Ptolemy s by temples 
oriented successively from that of Mut Az. N. 72 30' E. 
to 68 30', 63 30', and 62. 2 

It is worth while to show that what we know now of 
the Egyptian methods of observation enables us to carry 
the matter further, while we gather at the same time 
that in consequence of the difference of latitude the 
method employed in Egypt could not be followed in 

I showed in the Dawn of Astronomy that several 
ancient shrines consisted of two temples at right angles 

1 Dawn of Astronomy, p. 215. 

2 Ibid., p. 214. 

xxvin CLOCK-STARS 297 

to each other (see Fig. 13), one axis pointing high N.E. 
to observe the clock-star the worship of Set the 
other low N.W. to observe either the sun by itself, or 
in association with some important star of the same 
declination as the sun. 

The temples of Mut and Menu (or Min), and of Amen, 
with the associated temple M. of Lepsius, at Karnak, are 
the best extant examples of this principle of temple 

There is evidence that both at Annu and Memphis 
the same principle was followed, but at Annu one 
obelisk alone remains, and at Memphis one temple ; from 
these, however, Captain Lyons and myself have obtained 
sufficient data to enable the original directions of the 
temple-systems to be gathered. 

At Denderah, if such a N.W. temple ever existed it 
has disappeared, but as the monument stands there 
are still two temples at right angles to each other, but 
the second one faces S.E. instead of N.W. 

This premised, I will now give, in anticipation of 
another one dealing with the British monuments, a list 
of the most ancient star temples in Egypt, with their 
azimuths and the first-magnitude clock-stars which 
could have been observed in them at different dates. 
These dates have been approximately determined by 
the use of a precessional globe, an horizon of 1 eleva- 
tion being assumed. As I have shown, the present 
views of Egyptian chronology and the inscriptions carry 
us back to a Ursae Majoris, at Denderah. But there is 
a suggestion at Luxor, and perhaps also at Abydos, that 
Vega was used before that star, though there are, so 
far as I know, no temple traces of Arcturus. 




Temple. N. Lat. 






a Ursae 


Annu ... . 30 10' 

14 0' 

57 25' 





Memphis. ... 29 50 

12 45 

58 20 





Denderah ... 26 10 

18 30 

58 52 





Thebes (Mut) . . 25 40 

17 30 

59 46 





Tell-el-Amarna . 27 40 


60 12 





Kagada .... 26 10 


61 16 





There is a very great difference between determin- 
ing the date of a temple erected to the rising or 
setting of a particular star, and of one erected to the 
rising or setting of the sun on a particular day of 
the year. In the latter case no date can be given 
unless we have reason to believe that both the sun 
and a star rose or set at the same point of the 
horizon at the same date ; in other words, the sun and 
star had the same declination, and the rising or setting 
of both could be seen in the same temple. 

I assumed, without historical data, that this view 
was acted on in Egypt, at the temple of Menu ; Mr. 
Penrose found, with historical data, that it was actually 
acted on in Greece at the Parthenon. To show that 
we are at all justified in this view r we must study 
the association of gods with temple worship, and look 
for temples in different azimuths erected at different 
times if the god is a star ; and we can run the star home 
if the dates fall in with the star's processional change. 
Thus there is reason for supposing that the god Ptah 
and the star Capella were associated. There is a 
temple of Ptah at Memphis, Az. N. 77 15' W., hills 
50', decl. X. 11, star Capella, date 5200. In the rect- 
angular system at Memphis, then, a Ursae Majoris 

xxvin CLOCK-STARS 299 

was watched in one temple and Capella in the other at 
that date. There is also evidence that the god Menu 
was associated with the star Spica. In the temple 
system of Mut at Thebes, in 3200 B.C., 7 Draconis 
was used as a clock-star in one temple, while the 
setting of Spica was watched in the other. 

If a temple is erected to the sun with no specially 
named cult, it may be a sun-temple pure and simple, 
not connected with star worship because there was no 
star with the proper declination at the time. 

In Greece temple-building was carried on at a much 
later time, so late that perhaps water clocks were 
available, so that we should not expect to find many 
clock-star temples in that country. As a matter of 
fact there is only one, of which the data, according 
to Mr. Penrose, are as follows : 

N. Decl. Star. Date. 

Thebes, The City of the Dragon .... +54 28' 7 Draconis 1160 

It will be seen that the star used in Greece was the 
last clock-star traced in the Egyptian temples. 


I now come to Britain. So far as my inquiries 
have gone, these clock-star observations were introduced 

O ' 

into these islands about 2300 B.C. 

In my statement concerning them I will deal with 
the astronomical conditions for lat. 50 N., as it is in 
Cornwall that the evidence is most plentiful and 

In that latitude and at that time Arcturus, decl. N. 



41, was just circumpolar with a sea horizon, and 
therefore neither rose nor set. Capella, decl. N. 31, 
when northing was 9 below the horizon, so that it 
rose and set in azimuths N. 37 E. and N. 37 W. 
respectively ; it was therefore invisible for a long time 
and was an awkward clock-star in consequence. 

FIG. 61. Arctnrus and Capella as clock-stars in Britain. 

AB = sea horizon. 
A'B' = horizon 3 high. 

Fig. Gl represents diagrammatically the conditions 
named, the circumpolar paths of Arcturus and Capella 
being shown by the smaller and larger circle respec- 
tively. A B represents the actual sea horizon and 
A' B' a locally raised horizon 3 high, whilst the 
dotted portion of the larger circle represents the non- 
visible part of Capella's apparent path. 

What the British astronomer-priests did, therefore, in 




the majority of cases was to set up their temples 
in a locality where the N.E. horizon was high, so that 
Arcturus rose and set over it and was invisible for only 
a short time, as shown in the diagram by the raised 
horizon A' B f . 

The two lists following contain the names of the monu- 
ments where I suggest Arcturus was used as a clock- 
star. In the first, the angular elevation of the sky-line 
as seen from the circle in each case has been actually 
measured, and the date of the alignment is, therefore, 
fairly trustworthy ; but in the second list the elevations 
have been estimated from the differences of contour 
shown on the one-inch Ordnance map, and the dates 
must be accepted as open to future revision. 







! Decl. 

42 33' 



Lat. N. 

Long. W , 

Tregaseal . . 

50 8' 0" 

5 39' 20" 

Circ. to Cam Kenidjack 

N. 12 S'E. 

4 0' 


The Hurlers . . 

50 31 

4 27 20 

8. circ. over cent. circ. 
Cent. circ. over N. circ. 
X". circ. over X.E. bar- 

X. 11 15 E. 

N. 14 18 E. 
N. 18 44 E. 

3 24 
3 24 
3 24 

41 38 
41 9 



Merrivale . . . 

50 33 15 

4 2 30 

Circ. to remains of 
Direction of smaller 

X. 15 E. 
X. 24 25 E. 

3 1 

40 30 
39 55 


Fernworthy . . 

50 38 30 

3 54 10 

Direction of Avenue 

X. 13 E. 
X. 14 20 E. 

1 15 
1 15 

39 7 
38 51 


Stantoii Drew . 

51 22 

2 34 20 

Cent, of Gt. Circ. to 

X. 17 50 E. 2 33 

38 38 


Femworthy . . 

50 38 30 

3 54 10 

Direction of Avenue 

X. 15 45 E. 

1 15 

3S 34 


Merry Maidens 

50 3 40 

5 35 25 

Circ. to stone in the 

X. 11 45 E. 


38 27 


.Stantoii Drew . 

51 22 

2 34 20 

S.W. circ. to centre of 
Gt. Circ. 

X. 19 51 E. 1 44 

37 30 














Lat. N. 

Long. W. 


50 27' 30" 

4 0'20" 

Direction of primary 
Direction of final 

N. 7 O'E. 
N. 12 E. 

2 52' 
2 52 

41 24' 
41 6 



Longstone (Tre- 

50 8 10 

5 38 20 

Longstone to Chun 

N. 9 E. 

1 43 

40 39 


Lee Moor . . . 

50 26 30 

3 59 40 

Direction of avenue . . 

N.22 E. 

2 28 

38 17 


In some cases, for one reason or another, this arrange- 
ment was not carried out, and Capella, in spite of the 
objection I have stated, was used in the following 
circles : 











Lat. N. 

Long. W. 


Boscawen-un . 

50' 5' 20" 

5 37' 0" 

Circ. to Stone Cross . . 

N. 43 15' E. 

2 7' 

29 26' 


Merry Maidens 

50 3 40 

5 35 25 

Circ. over the " Pipers " 

N. 38 26 E. 


29 58 



The Nine Maid- 

50 28 20 

4 54 30 

Direction of Nine Maid- 
ens row 

N.28 E. 

33 47 


Stripple Stones 

50 32 51 

4 37 35 

Centre to N.E. bastion 

N. 26 E. 


34 38 


At the Merry Maidens, however, with nearly a sea 
horizon, when Arcturus ceased to be circumpolar and 
rose in Azimuth N. 11 45' E., it replaced Capella, and 
was used as a clock-star after 1600 B.C. 

In this system of night observation we have the germ 
of the use in later times of an instrument called the " night- 
dial," specimens of which, dating from the fourteenth 
century, can be seen in our museums. The introduction 

xxvni CLOCK-STARS 303 

of graduated circles permitted the employment of cir- 
cumpolar stars, and the "guards" of the Little Bear or 
the " pointers " of the Great Bear were thus used. 

FIG. 62. A "night-dial." 

There was a disc with a central aperture through which 
the pole star could be observed ; the disc could be adjusted 
for every night in the year ; an arm was then moved round 
so that the direction of the pointers (or the guards) with 
regard to the vertical could be measured ; on a second 
concentric circle the time of night could be read off. 



The Original Cult 

I HAVE given detailed evidence showing that the first 
circle builders in Britain worshipped the May-year sun, 
whether they brought it with them or not. This year 
was used in Babylon, Egypt, and afterwards in Greece. 
In the two former countries May was the harvest month, 
and thus became the chief month in the year. The dates 
were apt to vary with the local harvest time. 

The earliest extant temple aligned to the sun at this 
festival seems to have been that of Ptah at Memphis, 
5200 B.C. I have already referred to this temple in 
relation to the clock-star observations carried on in it. 

This approximate date of the building of the temple is 
obtained by the evidence afforded (l) by the associated 
clock-star (see p. 298), and (2) by the fact that the god 
Ptah represented the star Capella, since there is a Ptah 
temple at Thebes aligned on Capella at a later time, 
when by the precessional movement it had been carried 
outside the solar limit. There was also a similar temple 
at Annu (Heliopolis, lat, N. 30 10'), but it has disap- 
peared. The light of the sun fell alonsj the axis when 


the sun had the declination N. 11, the Gregorian dates 
being April 18 and August 24. 

Another May-year temple was that of Menu at Thebes, 

FIG. 63. Layard's plan of the Palace of Sennacherib discovered in the mound of 
Kouyunjik. The temple axis, XXXVI., XXXIV., XXIX., XIX. (XXII. is 

on a lower level), faces the rising of the May sun. 

Az. N. 72 30' W. (lat. N. 25 ; sun's declination N. 15; 
Gregorian date, May 1). 

As we have seen (p. 299), Spica had this declination in 
3200 B.C., and the coincidence may have been the reason 





for the erection, or, more probably, the restoration, of 
the temple, 1 especially as 7 Draconis came into play 
as a new clock-star at the same date. 



The researches of Mr. Penrose in Greece have provided 
us with temples oriented to the May-year sun. I shall 
return to them afterwards, as they are later in time than 
the British monuments. 

1 See Dawn of Astronomy, p. 318. 


The explorations of Sir H. Lay arc! at Nineveh, lat. 
36 N., have shown that the temple in Sennacherib's 

FIG. 65. The Temples at Chichen Itza. 

palace, which may have been a restoration of a much 
older temple, was also oriented to the May sun. 

x 2 


It is a pity that our present-day archaeologists do not 
more strictly follow the fine example set by Sir Henry 
Layard in his explorations of Kouyunjik. When he 
had unearthed Sennacherib's palace (700 B.C.) he was 
careful to give the astronomical and magnetic bearings 
of the buildings and of the temple which seemed to 
form the core of them. The bearing is Az. N. 68 30' E., 
giving the sun's declination as N. 16. 

I am enabled by the kindness of Mr. John Murray 
to give copies of the plans which Sir H. Layard pre- 
pared of the excavations both at Kouyunjik and 
Nimrood, showing the careful orientation which enables 
us to claim Sennacherib's temple as one consecrated 
to the May year, while at Nimrood (Babylon) the 
equinoctial worship was in vogue as at the pyramids. 

In association with these plans of Layard's, I give 
another by Mr. Maudslay of the as carefully oriented 
temples at Chichen Itza (N. lat. 20) explored by 
him. In these temples, of unknown date and origin, 
the azimuths of two show that the May year was 
worshipped. 1 

1 The temple conditions are approximately as follows : 


Azimuths. Decl. 

X. 21 30' E. 60" 15' ) 

N. 18 E. 62 36 } Stellar temples. Clock-stars. 

S. 27 W. 56 17 } 

S. 66 E. 23 Solstice ) , , 

S. 73 E. 160 May / Solar tem P les - 

Azimuths. Decl. 

N. 26 0' E. 59 0' Stellar temple. Clock-star. 

S. 70 E. 19 (?) 

N. 70 W. 19 (?) 

N. 67 W. 22 Solstitial ^ , , 

N. 72 30 16 May / Solar tem P les - 


The May-Year Monuments in Britain. 

In the first glimpses of the May year in Egypt we 
have dates from 5000 B.C. It does not follow that it 
did not reach Great Britain before about 2000 B.C. 
because monuments made their appearance about that 
time. It is clear, also, that with the possibilities of 
coastwise traffic as we have found it, it might as easily 
have reached Ireland by then ; 2000 B.C., therefore, is 
a probable date for the May worship to have reached 
Britain arguing on general principles ; we now come to 
a detailed summary of the facts showing that it really 
reached Britain earlier. 

Alignments in British monuments designed to mark 
the place of the sun's rising or setting on the quarter- 
days of the May year have been found as follows : 



May and Aug. 

Feb. and Nov. 

Lat. N. 

Long. W. 





Merry Maidens . . . 
Boscawen-un .... 
Tregaseal .... 
Longstone (Tregaseal) 
Down Tor 

50 3' 40" 
50 5 20 
50 7 50 
50 8 10 
50 30 10 
50 33 15 
50 31 
51 10 40 
51 22 

59 10 

5 35' 25" 
5 37 
5 39 20 
5 38 20 
3 59 30 
4 2 30 
4 27 20 
1 49 30 
2 34 30 

3 13 40 












The Hurlers .... 
Stanton Drew .... 


1 have already shown that it was the practice in 
ancient times for the astronomer-priests not only to 




watch the clock-stars during the night, but also other 
stars which rose or set about an hour before sunrise, 
to give warning of its approach on the days of the 
principal festivals. 

Each clock-star, if it rose and set very near the 
north point, might be depended on to herald the 
sunrise on one of the critical days of the year, but 
for the others other stars would require to be observed. 
This practice was fully employed in Britain. 

May Wajnings. The following table gives the stars 
I have so far noted which were used as warners for the 
May festival. 



Date or dates 



Pleiades (R) 


Merry Maidens 

Pleiades (R) 


The Hurlers . 

Antares (S) 
An tares (S) 



Pleiades (R) 
Pleiades (R) 



Pleiades (R) 



Pleiades (R) 


Stenness . . 

Pleiades (R) 


Longstone (Tregaseal) . . . 

Pleiades (R) 


(R) = rising. 

(S) setting. 

It is convenient here to give a list of the May 
warning stars found by Mr. Penrose in Greece, as it 
shows that the same stars were observed for the same 





Archaic temple of Minerva . . . 
Hiero of Epidaurus, Asclepieion. 
Hecatompedon . . 



+ 7 50' 
+ 9 15 

+ 9 58 

April 20 




Older Erechtheutn 



-14 31 

,, 29 


Temple of Bacchus . . 



+ 10 35 

,. 29 


Corinth . ... .... 




May 6 


Aegina . . 


-16 45 



The warning stars at Athens were the Pleiades for 
temples facing the east, and Antares for temples using 
the western horizon. 

August warnings. Sunrise at the August festival was 
heralded by the rising of Arcturus, which, as we have 
seen, was also used as a clock-star. The alignments 
and dates given in the Arcturus table therefore hold 
good for August. At the Hurlers, where the hill over 
which Arcturus was observed fell away abruptly, we 
find Sirius supplanting Arcturus as the warning star 
for August in 1690 B.C. 

November warnings. So far I have discovered no 
evidence that any star was employed to herald the 
November sun. There may be two reasons for this. 
In the first place the November festival " Halloween " 
took place at sunset and the sun itself could be watched, 
no heralding star being necessary. 

Secondly, the atmospheric conditions which prevail in 
Britain during November would not be conducive to 
the making of stellar observations at the horizon, and 
only risings or settings were observed -with regard to 
the quarter-days. 


February Warnings. In the same way that Arcturus 
served the double purpose of clock-star and herald for the 
August sun, so did Capella serve to warn the February 
sun in addition to its use at night. The alignments 
and dates given in the Capella table will therefore hold 
good for its employment at the February quarter-day. 

The Solstitial Year Monuments. 

In Egypt generally, the solstitial worship followed 
that of the May and equinoctial years. The religion of 
Thothmes III. and the Rameses was in greatest vogue 
2200-1500 B.C. 

We find little trace of it in Greece proper, though 
Mr. Penrose has traced it in Calabria and Pompeii, and 
in some of the islands. 

The solstitial cult was born in Egypt ; it is a child 
of the Nile-rise. I have shown in my Dawn of 
Astronomy that the long series of temples connected 
with the solstice may have commenced about 3000 B.C. ; 
but for long it was a secondary cult ; it was parochial 
until the twelfth dynasty, say 2300 B.C. Egypt's solsti- 
tial "golden age" may be given as 1700 B.C., and her 
influence abroad was very great, so that much travel, 
"coastwise" and other, may be anticipated. It is for 
some centuries after the first date that the introduction 
of the solstitial worship into Britain may be anticipated. 
It, for instance, is quite probable that the pioneers of this 
worship should have reached Stonehenge in 2000 B.C. 


The solstitial alignments found by Mr. Penrose in 
Greece are as follows : 





Athens, Dionysus (Upper Temple) 
Pompeii (Isis) . . 


Antares (setting) 

-11 2' 
-16 44 

June 20 





+ 29 38' 

Dec. 21 


Locri . .... . . . 


+ 29 40 

, 21 


We find plentiful evidence that the worship of the 
solstitial sun such as was carried on in Egypt at 
Karnak and at other places l was introduced into 
Britain some time after the May-year worship was 
provided for in the monuments. 

Although some of the alignments already discovered 
are in all probability solstitial, the variation of the sun's 
solstitial declination is so slow and takes place between 
such narrow limits that a most careful determination of 
the actual azimuths and of the angular heights of the 
various horizons must be made before any definite con- 
clusion as to dates can be arrived at. The necessity 
for this care is illustrated in the paper on Stone- 
hen ge 2 communicated to the Royal Society by Mr. 
Penrose and myself in 1891, where, after taking the 
greatest precautions, the resulting date was in doubt to 
the amount of 200 years in either direction. 

1 Dawn of Astronomy, p. 78. 

2 Proc. Roy. Soc., vol. 69. 



So far Stonehenge is the only temple at which these 
observations have been made, so that for the other 
alignments contained in the following list no dates 

o * 

can yet be given. 








Stonehenge . 

Direction of avenue . . 









Summer (R) 



Circ. to fine menhir . . 








Summer (R) 

,, Blind Fiddler . 









Tregaseal . . 

Circ. to row of holed 









Summer (R) 


Circ. to two barrows 900' 









Men-an-tol to Longstone S. 







Winter (S) 


The Hurlers . 

X, circ. to S.E. stone . 







20 S. 

Winter (S) 

Stanton Drew 

Gt. Circle to X.E. circle 






46 N. 

Summer (R) 

Stenness . . 

Circle to Hindera Fiold 







15 X. 

Summer (R) 

Barnstone to Maeshowe X. 





Circ. to Ward Hill S. 



Winter (R) 


Circ. to Onston tumulus S. 
tumuli . . . X. 




Summer (S) 

(R) = rising. (S) = setting. 

I cited an alignment at the Hurlers which marked 
the rising point of Betelgeuse. This star warned the 
summer solstice sunrise at about the Hurlers' date. So 
far, however, I have not yet found any suggestion of 
its use elsewhere. 

At Shovel Down and Challacombe on Dartmoor there 
are avenues pointing a few degrees west of north. The 
sight-lines along these avenues would mark the 
setting-point of Arcturus at the time that that star 
(setting) warned the rising of the sun at the summer 
solstice ; but this use cannot be considered as established, 
as Arcturus would scarcely set before its light was 
drowned in that of the risinsf sun. The absence of 



darkness in high summer in these latitudes and the 
bad weather in the winter may both be responsible 
for so few alignments for the solstices. 

The Equinoctial Year Monuments. 

The equinoctial pyramid and Babylonian cult in 
vogue in Egypt in the early dynasties (4000 B.C.), with 
the warning stars Aldebaran (March) and Vega (Sep- 
tember), was represented in Greece at a much later 
period. The facts for Greece, according to Mr. Penrose, 
are as follows : 



Day. Year. 

Nike Apteros 

Spica (setting) 

+ 6 



Mar. 17 1130 

Juno Lacinia (near Croton) . . . 
Paestum (Neptune) 

Spica (setting) 

+ 7 
+ 3 


,, 28 1000 
22 535 

Gergenti (Hercules) . . . 

+ 2 


,, 30 470 

Rhamnus (Themis) . . 

Spica (rising) 

+ 6 


Sept. 17 1092 

Tegea (Minerva) 

+ 5 


18 1075 

Syracuse (? Minerva). . . 

+ 4 


20 815 

Athens (dedication unknown) . . 
Rhamnus (Nemesis) 

+ 4 
+ 4 


23 780 

22 747 

Basste (Apollo) 

+ 3 


22 728 

Ephesus (Diana) ... 

+ 3 


25 715 

Syracuse (Diana) 
Ephesus (Diana) ^re-orientation). 

+ 2 


26 450 
Oct. 6 355 

In Britain equinoctial alignments are not wanting, but 
so few have been traced that I have reserved them for 
future inquiry. 



THE facts contained in the preceding chapters have 
suggested, at all events, that whatever else went on 
some four thousand years ago in the British circles 
there was much astronomical observation and a great 
deal of preparation for it. 

In a colony of the astronomer-priests who built and 
used the ancient temples we had of necessity : 

(l) Observatories, i.e., circles in the first place; next 
something to mark the sight-lines to the clock-star for 
night work, to the rising or setting of the warning stars, 
and to the places of sunrise and sunset at the chief festi- 
vals. This something, we have learned, might be another 
circle, a standing stone, a dolmen, a cove, or a holed 

A study of the sight-lines shows us that these col- 
limation marks, as we may call them, were of set 
purpose, generally placed some distance away from the 
circles, so for that they would require to be illuminated 
in some way for the night and dawn observations. 
When there was no wind, one or more hollows in a 
stone, whether a menhir or a quoit, might have held 


grease to feed a wick or a pine-wood torch. But in a 
wind some shelter would be necessary, and the light 
might have been used in a cromlech or allde couverte. 
Stones have been found with such cups, and debris of 
iires have been found in cromlechs. 

It must not be forgotten that here there was no oil 
as in the Semitic countries whence, as we have seen, 
the immigrants came ; and it was not a question of a 
light on the sight-line alone. If wood were used, it 
must have been kept dry for use, and whether wood or 
animal fat were employed the most practical and con- 
venient way of lighting up would have been to keep a 
fire ever burning in some sheltered place. 

(2) Dwellings, which would be cromlechs or many- 
chambered barrows, according to the number of astro- 
nomer-priests at the. station. These dwellings would 
require to be protected against the invasions of the 
local fauna, very different from what it is now, and for 
this a small, and on that account easily blocked, entrance 
would be an essential. 

These dwellings would naturally suggest themselves 
as the shelter place for the ever-burning fire or the 
supply of dry wood. Tradition points with no un- 
certain sound to the former existence of life and light 
in these "hollow hills." Mr. MacRitchie's book 1 con- 
tains a mine of most valuable and interesting information 
on this subject. 

(3) A water supply for drinking and bathing, which 
might be a spring, river or lake, according to the 

Given a supply of food we have now provided for 

1 The Testimony of Tradition. 


the shelter and protection of the astronomer and the 

But the man who brought this new astronomical 
knowledge was, before he came, astrologer and magician 
as well, and, further, he was a priest ; hence on account 
of his knowledge of the seasons, he could not only 
help the aboriginal tiller of the soil as he had never 
been helped before, by his knowledge ; but he could 
appeal in the strongest way to his superstitious fears 
and feelings, by his function as the chief sacrificer and 
guardian of the sacrificial altars and fires. Hence it 
was that everything relating to the three different 
classes of things to which I have referred was regarded 
as very holy because they were closely associated with 
the astronomer-priests, on \vhom the early peoples de- 
pended for guidance in all things, not only of economic, 
but of religious, medical and superstitious value. 

The perforated stones were regarded as sacred, so 
that passing through them was supposed to cure dis- 
ease. Whether men and women, or children only, 
passed through the hole depended upon its size. But a 
hole large enough for a head to be inserted was good 
for head complaints. 

The wells, rivers, and lakes used by the priests were, 
as holy places, also invested with curative properties, and 
offerings of garments (skins ?), and pins to fasten them 
on, as well as bread and wine and cheese, were made at 
these places to the priests. 

The fact that the tree on which the garment was hung 
was either a rowan or a thorn shows that these offer- 
ings commenced as early as the May-November worship. 

The holed stones, besides being curative, were in long 


after years, when marriage had been instituted, used for 
the interchange of marriage vows by clasping hands 
through the opening. 

The cups for the light would also be sacred objects ; 
and many of them have been since used for holy 

The cursus at Stonehenge and the avenues on Dart- 
moor may be regarded as evidences that sacred proces- 
sions formed part of the ceremonial on the holy days, 
but sacrifices and sacred ceremonials were not alone in 
question ; many authors have told us that feasts, games 
and races were not forgotten. This, so far as racing is 
concerned, is proved, I think, by the facts that the 
cursus at Stonehenge is 10,000 feet long and 350 feet 
broad, that it occupies a valley between two hills, thus 
permitting of the presence of thousands of spectators, 
and that our horses are still decked in gaudy trappings 
on May Day. 

Nor is this all. It is hard to understand some of 
the folklore and tradition unless we recognise that at 
a time before marriage was instituted, at some of the 
sacred festivals the intercourse of the sexes was per- 
mitted if not encouraged. This view is strengthened 
by the researches of Westermarck l and Rhys. 2 Given 
such a practice, the origin of matriarchal customs and 
of the couvade is at once explained ; and it is clear 
that the charges against the Druids of special cruelty 
and impurity must be withdrawn. Their sacrifices and 
customs were those common to all priesthoods in the 
ancient world. 

1 History of Htiman Jfarriage, Chapter II. 

2 Celtic Folklore, ii., 654. 


I have shown that some circles used in the worship 
of the May year were in operation 2200 B.C., and that 
there was the introduction of a new cult about 1600 B.C., 
or shortly afterwards, in southern Britain, so definite 
that the changes in the chief orientation lines in the 
stone circles can be traced. 

To the worship of the sun in May, August, November 
and February was added a solstitial worship in June 
and December. 

The associated phenomena are that the May -November 
Balder and Beltaine cult made much of the rowan and 
maythorn. The June-December cult brought the worship 
of the mistletoe. 

The flowering of the rowan and thorntree in May, 

O v ' 

and their berries in early November, made them the 
most appropriate and striking floral accompaniments of 
the May and November worships, and the same ideas 
would point to a similar use of the mistletoe in June 
and December. 

The fact that the June-December cult succeeded and 
largely replaced the May-November one could hardly 
have been put in a cryptic and poetic statement more 
happily than it appears in folklore : Balder was killed 
by mistletoe. 

This change of cult may be due to the intrusion of 
a new tribe, but I am inclined to attribute it to a new- 
view taken by the priests themselves due to a greater 
knowledge, among it being the determination, in Egypt, 
of the true length of the year which could be observed 
by the recurrence of the solstices, and of the intervals 
between the festivals reckoned in days. 

However this may have been, all the old practices 


and superstitions were retained, only the time of year 
at which they took place was changed. As the change 
of cult was slow, in any one locality the celebrations 
would be continued at both times of the year, and for 
long both sets of holidays were retained. 

Since I have shewn that the solstitial worship came 
last, traces of this, as a rule, would be most obvious in 
places where it eventually prevailed over the cult of 
the May year. In such places the absence of traces of 
the May festival would be no valid argument against 
its former prevalence. In other places, like Scotland, 
where the solstitial cult was apparently introduced late 
and was never prevalent, we should expect strong traces 
of the May worship, and, as a matter of fact, it is very 
evident in the folk lore and customs of Scotland ; even 
the old May year quarter days are still maintained. 

Between the years 2300 B.C. and 1600 B.C., whether 
we are dealing with the same race of immigrants or 
not, we pass from unhewn to worked stones. The 
method of this working and its results have been 
admirably shown to us by Prof. Gowland's explorations 
at Stonehenge. 

From the tables, given in Chap. XXVIII, it can be 
seen that, so far as the present evidence goes, there was a 
pretty definite time about 2300 B.C. of beginning the 
astronomical work at the chief monuments ; Cornwall 
came first, Dartmoor was next. 

Almost as marked as the simultaneous beginning are 
the dates of ending the observations, if we may judge of 
the time of ending by the fact that the precessional 
changes in the star places were no longer marked by 
the marking out of new sight lines. 



The clock-star work was the first to go, about 1500 B.C. 
The May-warning stars followed pretty quickly. 

We may say, then, that we have full evidence of 
astronomical activity of all kinds at the circles for a 
period of some 700 years. 

What prevented its continuance on the old lines ? It 
may have been that the invention of some other method 
of telling time by night had rendered the old methods 
of observation, and therefore the apparatus to carry them 
on, no longer necessary. 

On the other hand, it may have been that some new 
race, less astronomically inclined, had swept over the land. 

I am inclined to take the former view. It is quite 
certain that for the clock-stars other observations besides 
those on the horizon would soon have suggested them- 
selves for determining the lapse of time during the night. 
The old, high, bleak, treeless moorlands might then in 
process of time have been gradually forsaken, and life 
may have gone on in valleys and even in sheltered woods, 
except on the chief festivals. When this was so astro- 
nomy and superstition would give way to politics and 
other new human interests, and the priests would become 
in a wider sense the leaders and the teachers of the 
more highly organised community. 

It is clear that in later days as at the commencement 
they were still ahead in the knowledge of the time. " Hi 
terrae mundique magnitudinem et formam, motus coeli 
ac siderum, ac quod dii velunt sciere profitentur" is 
Pomponius Mela's statement concerning them. 1 From 
loOO B.C. to Caesar's time is a long interval, and yet 

1 Pomp. Mela, Lib. II. c. 2. I have already (p. 52) quoted Caesar's, 
testimony to the same effect. 


the astronomical skill of the so-called Druids, who beyond 
all question were the descendants of our astronomical- 
priests, was then a matter of common repute. Caesar's 
account of the Druids in Gaul (Bello Gallico, vi. c. 
13, 14, 15) is extremely interesting because it indicates, 
I think, that the Druid culture had not passed through 
Gaul and had therefore been waterborne to Britain, 
whither the Gauls therefore went to study it. 1 

Simultaneously with the non-use of the ancient stones, 
we may imagine that the priests of ever-increasing 
importance no longer dwelt in their cromlechs, but, 
rather, occupied such buildings as those which remain 
at Chysoister, and from this date it is possible that 
burials may have taken place in some of the mounds 
then given up as dwelling places. As sacred places 
they were subsequently used for burials, as Westminster 
Abbey has been ; but burials w r ere not the object of 
their erection. 2 This new habit may have started the 
practice of cist burial by later people in barrows thrown 
up for that special purpose. 

I cannot close this Chapter without expressing my 
admiration of the learning and acumen displayed by 
Dr. Borlase in his treatment of the subject of the Druids 
in his History of Cornwall, published in 1769; I find 
he has anticipated me in suggesting that the hollowed 

1 ' Diseiplina in Britannia reperta, atque in Galliam translata esse 
existimatur." C. Bell. Gall. lib. vi. c. 13. This "discipline'' also 
included magic according to Pliny. " Britannia hodie earn (i.e. 
Magiam) attonite celebrat tantis ceremoniis, ut earn Persis dedisse 

O / 

videri possit " (lib. xxx. c. 1.) 

2 Bertrand and Reinach, Les Celtes et les Gaulois dans les Vallees du 
P6 et du Danube, p. 82. Tregellis, " Stone Circles in Cornwall." 
Trans. Penzance Natural History and Antiquarian Society, 1893-4. 

Y 2 




stones were used for fires. It is clear, now that the monu- 
ments have been dated, that the astronomical knowledge 
referred to by Caesar and Pomponius Mela was no new 
importation ; if, therefore, the present view of ethnologists 
that the Celtic intrusion took place about 1000 B.C. is 
correct, it is certain the Celts brought no higher intel- 
ligence with them than was possessed by those whom 
they found here ; nor is this to be expected if, as the 
inquiry has suggested, the latter were the representatives 
of the highest civilisation of the East with which possibly 
the former had never been brought into contact. 



THE instrument chiefly employed was a six-inch transit theodolite 
by Cooke with verniers reading to 20" in altitude and azimuth. 
Most of the observations were made at two points very near the 
axis, which may be designated by a, b. Station a was at a distance 
of 61 feet to the south-west of the centre of the temple, and b 
364 feet to the north-east. The distance from the centre of Stone- 
henge to Salisbury Spire being 41,981 feet, the calculated corrections 
for parallax at the points of observation with reference to Salisbury 
Spire are : 

Station a + 4' 12". 
5-25 20. 

(1) Relative Azimuths. Theodolite at station a 

Salisbury Spire 0' 0" 

N. side of opening in N.E. trilithon 

of the external ring , 237 27 40 

Tree in middle of clump on Sidbury 

Hill 237 40 20 

Highest point of Friar's Heel 239 47 25 

S. side of opening in N.E. trilithon. . . 240 14 40 

Middle ... 238 51 10 

(2) Absolute Azimuths. All the azimuths were referred to that 
of Salisbury Spire, the azimuth of which was determined by 
observations of the Sun and Polaris. 


(a) Observation of Sun, June 23, 1901, 3.303.40 P.M. 

Mean of observed altitudes of Sun 41 26' 35" 

Refraction 1' 4" | Q Q gg 

Parallax + 6 J 

True altitude of Sun's centre ... 41 25 37 

Latitude = 51 10' 42". Sun's decimation = 23 26' 43". 
Using the formula 

cos 2 iA = sm HA + c-z)sinHA+z-c) 
sin c . sin z 

where A = azimuth from south, A = polar distance, 

fi = co-latitude, and z zenith distance, 
we get 

Azimuth of Sun S. 75 30' 30" W. 

Mean circle reading on Sun 84 38 35 

Azimuth of Salisbury Spire S. 9 8 5 E. 

(b) Observations of Polaris. June 23, 1901. Time of greatest 
easterly elongation, calculated by formula cos A, = tan < cot S, is 
G.M.T. 1.34 A.M. 

Azimuth at greatest easterly elongation, calculated by the 

sin A = cos S sec <, 

is 181 57' 0" from south. 

Observed maximum reading of circle 256 33' 0" 

True azimuth of star... 181 57 

Meridian (S.) reading of circle 74 36 

Circle reading on Salisbury Spire 65 28 

Azimuth of Salisbury Spire ...S. 9 8 E. 

The mean of the two determinations gives for the azimuth of 
Salisbury Spire S. 9 8' 2" E. This result agrees well with the 
value of the azimuth communicated by the Ordnance Survey 
Office, namely, 9 4' 8" from the centre of the circle, which 


being corrected by + 4' 12" for the position of station a, is increased 
to 9 8' 20". 

Hence, from the point of observation a, 9 8' 20" has been 
adopted as the azimuth of Salisbury Spire. 

We thus get the following absolute values of the principal 
azimuths from the point a : 

Highest point of Friar's Heel 239 47' 25" 

-9 8 20 

230 39 5 

or N. 50 39 5 E. 

Middle of opening in N.E. trilithoD 238 51 10 

-9 8 20 

229 42 50 
or N. 49 42 50 E. 

The difference of 8i' between this and the assumed axis 
49 34' 18" is so slight that considering the indirect method which 
has necessarilly been employed in determining the axis of the 
temple from the position of the leaning stone, and the want of 
verticality, parallelism and straightness of the inner surfaces of 
the opening in the N.E. trilithon, we are justified in adopting 
the azimuth of the avenue as that of the temple. 

Next, with regard to the determination of the azimuth of the 
avenue as indicated by the line of pegs to which reference is made on 
p. 65. The small angle between the nearest pegs A and B (which 
are supposed to be parallel to the axis of the avenue), observed 
from station a, was measured, and the corresponding calculated 
correction was applied to the ascertained true bearing of the more 
distant peg B. 


True bearing of peg B = 238 35' 0" 

Calculated correction to peg A = ... 12 8 

True bearing of line AB 238 47 8 

Bearing of Salisbury Spire 189 8 20 

True bearing of a line parallel to the 

axis of near part of avenue N. 49 38 48 E. 


The mean of the three independent determinations by another 
observer was 49 39' 6". 

The calculated bearing of the more distant part of the axis of 
the avenue determined in the same manner by observations from 
station b is 49 32' 54". The mean of the two, namely, 49 35' 51", 
justifies the adoption of the value 49 34' 18" as given by the 
Ordnance Survey for the straight line from Stonehenge to Sidbury 

(3) Observation of Sunrise. On the morning of June 25, 1901, 
sunrise was observed from station a, and a setting made as nearly 
as possible on the middle of the visible segment as soon as could be 
done after the Sun appeared. 

The telescope was then set on the highest point of the Friar's 
Heel, and the latter was found to be 8' 40" south of the Sun. 

Sun's declination at time of observation ... 23 25' 5" 
Elevation of horizon at point of sunrise ... 35 48 
Assuming 2' vertical of Sun to have been 
visible at observation, w r e have apparent 

altitude of Sun's upper limb 37 48 

Refraction -27' 27"} _~ 27 18 

Parallax . ..+ 9 / 

True altitude of upper limb 10 30 

Sun's semi-diameter . 15 46 

True altitude of Sun's centre 5 16 

From this it results that the true azimuth 

of the Sun at the time of observation = N. 50 30' 54" E. 

And since azimuth of Friar's Heel . ..= 50 39 5 

2' of sunrise should be N. of Friar's Heel 811 
Observed difference of azimuth . . = 8 40 

Observed calculated = 29 

The observation thus agrees with calculation, if we suppose 
about 2'of the Sun's limb to have been above the horizon when it 
was made, and therefore substantially confirms the azimuth above 
given of the Friar's Heel and generally the data adopted. 



IT will probably be found useful if I give here a few hints as to- 
the precautions which must be taken in making the field observa- 
tions and an example of their reduction to an astronomical 

For the azimuths of the sight-lines the investigator of these 
monuments cannot do better than use the 25-inch, or 6-inch, maps 
published by the Ordnance Survey. Their accuracy is of a very 
high order and is not likely to be exceeded, even if approached, 
by any casual observer having to make his own special arrange- 
ments for correct time before he can begin his surveying 

In some cases, however, it may be found that the Survey has not 
included every outstanding stone which may be found by an 
investigator on making a careful search ; many of the stones are 
covered by gorse, &c., and are not, therefore, easily found. 

In such cases the azimuth of some object that is marked on the 
map should be taken as a reference line and the difference of 
azimuth between that and the unmarked objects determined. By 
this means the azimuths of all the sight-lines may be obtained. 

When using the 25-inch maps for determining azimuths it 
must be borne in mind that the side-lines are not, necessarily, due 
north and south. The Director-General of the Ordnance Survey, 
Southampton, will probably on application state the correction to 
be applied to the azimuths on this account, and this should be 
applied, of course, to each of the values obtained. 

If for any reason it is found necessary or desirable to make 
observations of the azimuths independently of the Ordnance 
Survey, full instructions as to the method of procedure may be 
found in an inexpensive instruction book l issued by the Board of 
Education. The instructions given on p. 49, 3, are most 

1 Demonstrations and Practical Work in Astronomical Physics at the Royal 
College of Science, South Kensington. Wyman and Sons, Is. 


generally applicable, and the form on p. 76 will be found very 
handy for recording and reducing the observations. 

In making observations of the angular elevation of the horizon 
a good theodolite is essential. Both verniers should be read, the 
mean taken, and then the telescope should be reversed in its 
Ys, reset, and both readings taken again. One setting and 
reading are of little use. 

The Ordnance Survey maps may also be employed in a 
preliminary reconnaissance to obtain approximate values of the 
horizon elevations. This may be done by measuring the distances 
and contour-lines shown on the one-inch maps. This method, 
however, is only very roughly approximate owing to the fact that 
sharp but very local elevations close to the monuments may not 
appear on these maps and yet be of sufficient magnitude to cause 
large errors in the results. 

Where trees, houses, &c., top the horizon, they should, of course, 
be neglected and the elevation of the ground level, at that spot, 
taken. Should the top of the azimuth mark (stone, &c.) show above 
the actual horizon, its elevation should be recorded and not that of 
the horizon. 

Having measured the angular elevation of the horizon along the 
sight-line, it is necessary to convert this into actual zenith distance 
and to apply the refraction correction before the computations of 
declination can be made. 

The process of doing this and of calculating the decimation 
will be gathered from the examples given below : 


Monument : E. circle Tregeseal, lat. 50 8' N. i.e. colat = 39 52'. 
Alignment. Centre of circle to Longstone. 
Az. (from 25" Ordnance Map). N. 66 38' E. 
Elevation of horizon (measured) 2 10.' 

Reference to the May-Sun curve, given on p. 263, indicates that 
this is probably an alignment to the sunrise on May morning. 
Therefore, in determining the zenith distance, the correction for 
the sun's semi-diameter (16') must be taken into account, allowing 
that 2' of the sun's disc was above the horizon when the observation 
was made. 


Zenith Distance : 

Zenith distance of true horizon = 90 

local =90 - 2 10' = 87 50' 

Bessel's tables show that refraction, at altitude 2 10', raises 
sun 17'. If 2' of sun's limb is above horizon, sun's centre is 
14' below. 

.*. True zenith distance of sun's centre = 8 7 50'+ 17' + 14' = 88 21'. 
Declination : 

Having obtained the zenith distance, and the azimuth, the 
latitude being known, the N.P.D. (North Polar Distance) of the 
sun may be found by the following equations : 

(1) tan = tan 2. cos A, 

where 6 is the subsidiary angle which must be determined for the 
purpose of computation, z is the true zenith distance, and A is the 
distance from the North point. 

, ON . cos z. cos (c 6} l 

(2) , cosA = L, 

cos a 

where A is the N.P.D. of the celestial object, and c is the 
colatitude (90 lat.) of the place of observation. 

In the example taken this gives us 
(1) tan 6 = tan 88 21'. cos 66 38' 

6 = 85 50' 45" 
A _cos 88 21'. cos (39 52' -85 50' 45") 

( Z* } COS ^-A 

cos 85 50' 45" 
A = 73 57' 50" 

Declination, 8, =(90 -A) = 16 2' 10" N. 

Reference to the Nautical Almanac shows that this is the sun's 
declination on May 5 and August 9. We may therefore conclude 
that the Long-stone was erected to mark the May sunrise, as seen 
from the Tregeseal Circle. 

Had we been dealing with a star, instead of the sun, the only 
modification necessary in the process of calculating the 
declination would have been to omit the semi-diameter correction 
of 14'. 

Having obtained a declination, we must refer to the curves given 
on pp. 115-6 in order to see if there is any star which fits it, and 
to find the date. 

1 cos (c - 0) cos - (c - 6). 



Take, for example, the case of the apex of Cam Kenidjack, as 
seen from the Tregeseal circle 

Az. = N. 12 8' E. ; hill = 4 0.' lat. = 50 8'. 

This gives us a declination of 42 33' N., and a reference to the 
stellar-declination curves (p. 115-6) shows that Arcturus had that 
declination in 2330 B.C. From the table given on p. 117, we 
see that at that epoch Arcturus acted as warning-star for the 
August sun. 

In cases where the elevation of the horizon is 30', or in 
preliminary examinations, where it may be assumed as 30', the 
refraction exactly counterbalances the hill, and therefore the true 
zenith distance at the moment of star-rise is 90. Hence the 
N.P.D. of the star may be found from the following simple 
(3) cos A = cos A cos X 

where A and A have the same significance as before and X is the 
latitude of the place of observation. 


Abydos, clock star at, 297. 

Africa, sacred stones and trees, 235. 

Aldebaran, see Tauri a. 

" Alice" couverte," 41, 317. 

"All Hallows," 187 ; Irish and Welsh 
equivalents, 195. 

"All Souls," change of date, 186. 

Alsia well, 227. 

Altar stone, Stonehenge, 81 ; Aber- 
deen type, 36. 

Amen-Ra, 2 ; temple of, 55, 297. 

Amplitude, 10, 111. 

Animals, sacrifices of, 197. 

Annu, temples at, 296, 297, 304. 

Ant ares, see Scorpionis a. 

Antiquaries, Society of, 69, 133. 

Antrobus, Sir Edward, 49, 69, 94. 

Apollo, 52. 

Arabia, sacred stones and trees in, 

Archaeology, relation to astronomy, 4. 

Arcturus, -see Boo'tis a. 

Aries, 15, 315. 

Armenia, calendar in, 29 ; fire festival 
in, 191. 

Aryans, 40, 236. 

Ascension Day, 185, 231. 

Asherah, 245, 257. 

Ash Wednesday, 182. 

Assacombe, 158. 

Assyria, sacred trees, &c., 245. 

Astronomer-priests, procedure of, 
110, 316. 

Athens, May-day worship, 108 ; 
temples at, 32 ; warning stars at, 311. 

August-festival, dates of, 185 ; in 
Brittany, 199 ; in Ireland and Wales, 
186 ; warning-stars, 311. 

Aurigae a (Capella), clock- and warn- 
ing-star, 117, 272, 290, 292, 293, 298, 
299, 304, 312 ; associated with Ptah, 

Avebury, cove at, 37. 

Avenue, at Stonehenge, 63, 65. 

Avenues, in Brittany, 149 ; on Dart- 
moor, 146, 319 ; definition of, 37. 

Axis (of temple), Stonehenge, 55, 60 ; 
Karnak, 56 ; Kouyunjik, 305 ; Annu, 
305 ; change of, 42. 

Azimuth, defined, 10, 111 ; changes 
in, 122 ; of May sunrise, 264. 

Azimuth-marks, illumination of, 110. 


Baal, 197, 249, 259. 

"Baal's Fire" (Beltan), 40. 

Babylon, 24, 240, 259, 295, 308 ; May 
year in, 304. 

Babylonians, astronomical knowledge 
of, 240 ; early navigators, 241. 

Baker, Sir Samuel, 235. 

Balder, 320. 

Balfour, Prof. Bayley, 201. 

Ball, Dr. Henry, 26. 

Balus, first king of Orkney, 259. 

Baring-Gould, Rev. S., 149, 190, 194, 
198, 213, 215, 239, 256. 

Barnstone-Maeshowe (Orkney), 129. 

Barrows, burials in, 323 ; chambered, 
164, 192, 317; date of, 78, 238; em- 
ployment of, 38, 110, 140, 268 ; varieties 
of, 143. 

Bartinn6, Cornwall, 219. 

Battendon, 158. 

Batworthy, avenues near, 160. 

Bede's well, near Jarrow, 230. 

Beirna-well (Barnwell), 230. 

Bell, Mr. J., of Dundalk, 253. 

Beltaine, ceremonies at, 40, 197, 285, 
320 ; variations of, 201, 204, 218, 259. 

Betelgeuse, see Orionis a. 

Bethel, 245, 255. 

Bigswell, 218. 

"Blind Fiddler, "The, 291. 

Blisland, Cornwall, 291. 

Blocking-stones, 156, 176. 

Blow, Mr., 69. 

"Blue stones, "at Stonehenge, 80,91. 



Bolitho, Mr. Horton, 140, 219, 268, 
270, 277, 282, 287, 289, 291. 

Bonfires, see Fires. 

Bookan, Ring of, 128. 

Bootis o (Arcturus), 117, 137, 150, 
151, 156, 158, 159, 160, 161, 163, 174, 
273, 280, 299, 301, 311, 314. 

Borlase, Dr., 134, 218, 219, 234, 254, 
255, 267, 289, 323. 

Borlase, Mr. W. C., 37, 213, 266, 274. 

Boscawen-TTn, 287, 290, 309, 314. 

Boswens Common, 282. 

Britain, introduction of clock-stars, 
299 ; May-year temples, 309 ; pre-Celtic 
inhabitants, 250. 

Brittany, festivals, 198 ; megalithic 
remains, 96 ; solstitial fires, 194. 

Britons, Saxon slaughter of, 95. 

Bronze-age, 75, 78. 

Brugsch, 1, 296. 

Budge, Dr., 296. 

Burials, 146, 164 ; in mounds, 323. 

Burton, Captain, 235. 


Caesar, 52, 323, 324. 

Cairns, employment of, 38, 142, 164, 
192, 289 ; Biblical references to, 244 ; 
burials in, 252 ; orientation of, 254. 

Calabria, 312. 

Calends, the winter, 195. 

Calendar, changes in the, 23 ; Arme- 
nian and Turkish, 29 ; Celtic, 186 ; 
Koptic, 28. 

Camden, 289. 

Canaan, sacred stones and trees in, 

Canis Majoris o (Sirius), 108, 117, 
143, 311. 

Candlemas, 143, 184, 185, 188, 191. 

Canopus, 18. 

Capella, see Aurigae a, 

Capricorni a, 117. 

Caradon Hill, 143. 

Cam Kenidjack, 278. 

Carnac, bonfires at, 40 ; menhirs at, 
98, 105, 239 ; sacrifices at, 199. 

Carruthers, Mr., 69. 

Castallack, Cornwall, 267. 

Castor, xee Geminorum. 

Cattle, drenching in holy wells, 230. 

Caves, purpose of, 244, 254. 

" Cave of Elephanta," 256. 

Celts, calendar of the, 186, 195 ; in- 
trusion of, 324 ; worship, 32. 

Ceylon, 235. 

Chabas, 1. 

Chaldea, 12. 

Challacombe, 158 ; multiple avenue, 
149, 159 ; solstitial worship, 314. 

Chapel Euny, Cornwall, 219, 226. 

Chaucer, 203. 

" Cheesewring, The," 134. 

Chichen-Itza, 32, 308. 

"Choir (Jawr,"53. 

Chun Castle, Cornwall, 284, 286. 

Chun Cromlech, Cornwall, 284. 

Churches, replaced stone circles, 219. 

Chysoister, 323. 

Circles (stone), employment of, 232,. 
316 ; associated with wells, 228 ; classi- 
fication of, 36, 37 ; star observations in, 

Cists, 164 ; burials in, 323. 

Clock-stars, employment of, 108, 294, 
296, 298, 299, 304, 308 ; fall into dis- 
use, 322. 

Coinage, early British, 52. 

Collimation-marks, 316. 

Constantine, Cornwall, 269. 

Cord, The stretching of the, 1. 

Cormac, Archbishop, 181, 189, 195, 

Cornish, Mr., 270, 282. 

Cornwall, astronomical conditions in, 
262 ; azimuths of May sunrise, 264 ; 
clock-stars in, 299 ; Mav bathing in, - 
227; stone circles in, 36, 262; wells 
and circles in, 219. 

Cosens, Bishop, of Durham, 184. 

Council of Nice, 23. 

Couvade, 319. 

Coves, 37, 316. 

Cresset-stones, 190, 256. 

Cromlechs, defined, 37 ; employed, 
101, 102, 161, 253 ; in cairns, 253 ; uses 
of, 110, 141, 245, 252, 317. 

Crosses (stone), old monoliths, 141, 

Crozon, monuments at, 101. 

Cult, change of, 320. 

" Cultus Lapidum," denouncement 
of, 39. 

Cumberland, stone circle in, 36. 

Cunnington, Mr., 79, 81, 90. 

Cups, for containing lamps, 319. 
Cursiter, Mr., 35, 123. 

Cursus, The, at Stonehenge, 154, 
155, 319. 


Danams, 90. 

Danckworth, Dr., 111. 

Dartmoor, avenues on, 146, 151, 319. 

Davies, Mr., 27, 95. 

Declination, defined, 10, change of 

Deepdale, 132. 

Dekkan, sacred stones and trees in 
the, 235. 



Denderah, 295, 297. 

Dentil, pre-Christian custom, 234. 

Devoir, Lieut., 98, 104, 105, 145, 

Diana, temple of, 31. 

Diodorus Siculus, 51. 

Diseases, cure of, 318. 

Divination, at holy well, 226. 

Dolmens, 255, 316 ; derivation of 
name, 38 ; a galerie, described, 38 ; 
a fcdUe couverte, described, 38 ; in 
tumuli, 253 ; in Ireland, 37 ; purpose 
of, 41, 252, 254 ; Semitic origin of, 

Down Tor, May-year at, 309. 

Draconis 7, 295, 296, 299, 305. 

Drizzlecombe. 158. 

Druids, arrival of, 27 ; customs of, 
259, 319, 323 ; mistletoe and the, 210 ; 
teachings of, 52. 

Diimichen. 1. 

Durandus, 183, 192. 

Durham, cathedral customs at, 184. 

Dwellings of priests, 317, 323. 

Dymond, Mr., 166, 171. 

Ferguson, Dr., 110. 

Fernworthy, avenues at, 158. 

Festivals, 182, 185, 258; Cornish 
139 ; May, 40, 185, 196, 198, 226, 247, 

Fires, at various seasons, 30, 32 39 
183, 184, 189, 194, 204 ; Druidical, 181 ; 
in cromlechs, 317 ; in hollowed stones, 
323 ; pagan, 191 ; Roman Catholic and 
Protestant, 182 ; sacred, 195, 248, 
256 ; customs, 190, 199 ; festivals, 
194 ; rites, 192 ; signals, 21 ; wheels 

Flints, 79. 

Florence, fire customs, 193. 

Folklore, 179; Babylonian and 
Indian, 242 ; Semitic and British, 246. 

Fosseway, the Great, 147. 

Fougou, 192, 267. 

Fountains, 246. 

France, place names derived from 
wells, 234. 

Frazer, Dr., 26, 28, 40, 189, 209. 

Friar's Heel, the (Stonehenge). 53, 
60, 68, 90, 93. 

" Furry Dance," the, 206. 


Easter, 40, 182, 183; May festival 
replaced by, 231 ; variation of date, 24. 

Ecliptic, change of obliquity, 15. 

Eden Hall, 227. 

Edgar (A. D. 963), 233. 

Edmonds, Mr., 267. 

Egypt, astronomy in, 249 ; calendar, 
28 ; clock-stars, 295 ; equinoxes in 
Lower, 108 ; May-year, 304 ; sequence 
of worships, 312 ; solstices, 258 ; temple 
azimuths, 298 ; year-gods, of, 259. 

Elias (Elijah), or Al-Khidr or El- 
Khidr, 29, 257. 

Ephesus. 32. 

Equator, apparent path of stars at, 7. 

Equinoxes, the, 13, 18, 108, 211 ; 
temples for, 32 ; in Britain, 64, 315. 

Erechtheum, the older, 31, 108, 142. 

Euphrates, rise of the, 30. 

Evans, Sir John, 76. 


Falmouth, Lord, 268. 
Farr, Sutherlandshire, 229. 
Farmer, Prof., 27. 
Feasts, 187, 319. 

February, warning-stars in Britain, 


Gaillard, 96, 104. 

"Galgal." description of, 38. 

Games, 319. 

Garments, offerings of, 318. 

Gauls, 323. 

Gavr Innis, 38, 255. 

Gemini, 15. 

Geminorum, a, /3 and 7, 117. 

Geoffrey of Mpnmouth, 52. 

Glamorgan, rites at holy wells, 223. 

Globe, celestial, 8 ; precessional, 

Goidels, 237. 

Gomme, Mr., 195, 213, 216, 221, 222, 
227, 236, 238. 

"Goon-Kith, "266. 

Gould, Baring-, see Baring-Gould. 

Gowland, Prof., 3, 45, 69, 72, 74, 75, 
76, 80, 82, 87, 91, 321. *"* 

Greece, astronomical observations in, 
34, 298, 311 ; divisions of year in, 20 
304; temples in, 34, 306, 311, 313 
315 ; temple building in, 299. 

Grimm, 26, 211. 

Grovely Castle, 66. 

Groves, Biblical reference to, 245 
sacred, 27, 258. 

Giraldus Cambrensis. 52. 

Gudea (2500 B.C.), 242. 

Guest, Dr., 95. 

33 6 


Hall, Mr., 237. 

Halley, 54. 

Hallowe'en, 125, 143, 201, 311. 

Hallo wmass. 187. 

Hameldon. 147. 

Hammerstones, and axes, 74. 

Harrison. Mr., 50. 

Har Tor, 158. 

Harvest, season of, 139, 304. 

"Hautville's Quoit," 167, 168. 

Hawthorn, 201, 202, 221. 

Hawk's Tor, 291. 

Hazlitt, 183, 197, 239. 

Hecataeus, of Abdera, 51. 

Hecatompedon, the, 31, 108, 154. 

Helios, 29. 

Hellard, Colonel, 270. 

Helston, May-day at, 205. 

Henderson, Capt., 140, 270, 274. 

Henry of Huntingdon, 52. 

Hermes, 259. 

Hieroglyphics, 38. 

Higgins, Mr., 62. 

Hills, actual and angular heights, 
112 ; effects of, 120, 264, 291. 

Hoare, Sir R. C., 61, 149. 

Holed stones, see stones. 

Hollantide, 188. 

Holne (Dartmoor), 195. 

Holy of Holies, 16, 55. 

Holy Thursday, 185. 

Honeysuckle, 207. 

Hook Lake, 158. 

Hope, 213, 228, 231, 233. 

Horizon, angular elevation of, 1 12 ; 
early employment of, 2, 5, 250. 

Horses, at May-day festivals, 319. 

Horus, 32, 195. 

Hue, 236. 

"Hurlers, The" (Cornwall), 36, 133, 
134, 135 ; alignments at, 137 ; change 
of warning star at, 311 ; dates of con- 
struction, 139 ; May-year at, 309 ; 
solstices at, 314. 

Hyperboreans, 51. 


Ihering, 241. 

Illuminations, collimation-mark, 317 ; 
May-day, 204. 

Implements, flint, 74. 

Inverness, type of circle at, 36. 

Ireland, division of the year in, 30 ; 
festivals in, 187, 197, 309. 

Isis, 32. 

Isle-of-Man, festivals in the, 187, 
207 ; wells and circles in the, 219. 

James, Sir Henry, 219. 

Japan, 3, 84. 

Jews, equinoctial festivals among 
the, 258. 

Johnston, Colonel, 111, 129, 135, 
152, 166. 

Jones, Inigo, 53. 

Jones, Prof. J. M., 250. 

Josephus, 32. 

Judd, Prof., 80, 91. 

June- Year, 93, 251. 

Karnak, temples at, 55, 297. 
Kenidjack. Cam, 278. 
Kerenneur, 105. 
Kerlescant, 39. 
Kerloas. 105. 
Keswick, 35, 111. 
King's Teignton, 196. 
Kingstone, The, at Roll-Rich (Oxon.), 

Kit's Coity House, 37. 
Knightlow Hill (Coventry-), 188. 
Knut (A.D. 1018), 233. 
Kouyunjik, 308, 322. 


"Lammas," 186. 

Lanyon, 273. 

Lanyon Quoit, 280. 

Latitude, results of, 291. 

Layard, Sir H., 241, 307, 308. 

Lent, origin and customs of, 183, 

Leslie, Colonel, 218, 235, 255. 

Lewis, Mr. A. L., 35, 123, 176. 

Lockyer, Dr., 111. 

Longstones, found in barrows, 268. 

Longstone, The (Tregeseal), 278, 280, 
309, 314. 

" Lug," the Irish Sun-God, 186. 

Lugnassad, Irish feast, 186. 

Lukis, Dr., 37, 133, 144, 150, 253, 
265, 287, 291, 292. 

Luxor, 297. 

Lyrae, a (Vega), 297, 315. 

MacRitchie, Mr., 192, 317. 
Madron (Cornwall), 225. 
Maeshowe (Orkney), 35, 123, 125, 253, 
254 ; date of, 129 ; use of, 192. 
Markab, see Pegasi a. 
Marriage, customs, 285, 319. 


Martin, St., in Germany, 187. 

Martinmas, old, 188. 

Maudslay, Mr., 32, 308. 

Mauls, 75. 

May-day, 108, 201, 204. 

May- eve, 95, 207. 

May-festivals, 40, 185, 196, 198, 226, 
247, 258. 

Maypole, 205, 227. 

May-sun, 36, 151, 262, 263. 

May-thorn, 202, 212, 320. 

May-year, the, 19, 181, 232, 304, 320 ; 
divisions of, 263, 304 ; provided for, 18, 
35, 64, 93, 98, 104, 105, 127, 174, 241, 
247, 271, 280, 284, 286, 290, 304, 306, 
307, 308, 309, 321 ; relation to June- 
year, 106, 230, 251, 261 ; warning-stars, 
117, 142 ; worship, 95, 96, 109. 

Mecca, 245. 

Meiwethydd (May-eve), 95. 

Melon, island of, 102. 

Memphis, Capella at, 304 ; May- 
worship, 18 ; temples at, 297, 298. 

Men-an-tol, 284, 286. 

Menec (Le), 39, 98, 159. 

Menhirs, 37, 105 ; ceremonies at, 256 ; 
in Brittany, 96 ; near holy wells, 225 ; 
various, 39, 101, 102, 103, 152, 157. 

Men-Peru, 269. 

Menu or Min, temple of, 29, 31, 108, 
142, 297, 298, 305; associated with 
Spica, 299. 

Mercury, 259. 

Merrivale, avenues at, 147, 153, 154 ; 
May-year at, 309. 

Merry Maidens, 265 ; alignments at, 
271, 276; clock-stars at, 302; May- 
year at, 309. 

Midsummer, ceremonies at, 231. 

Midsummer eve, mistletoe on, 210. 

Mihr, Armenian fire-god, 191. 

Mistletoe, 26, 27, 201, 210, 320 ; as a 
medicine, 210 ; "Oil of St. John," 210 ; 
Swedish notions concerning, 209. 

Mitchell's Egyptian Calendar, 28. 

Molech, 248. 

Molene Island, 103. 

Monoliths, 81, 216, 244. 

Montelius, 76. 

Moon, employment of the, 18 ; wor- 
ship of the, 249. 

Morbihan, alignments at, 100. 

Morgan, Lloyd, Prof., 167, 170, 176. 

Morgan, Mr., 53. 

Morrow, Mr., 171, 174. 

Mountain- ash, 206. 

Mungo-Park, 235. 

Murray, Mr. George, 27. 

Murray, Mr. John, 308. 

Mut, temple of, 297. 

Mythology, origin of, 19. 


Nantwich, 221. 

Naos, The, at Stonehenge, 16, 41, 63 

Need fires, 190. 

Neolithic-age, 75, 76. 

New-Grange (Meath), 38. 

Newton's herbal, 212. 

New-year, change of date, 194. 

Night-dial, use of, 302. 

Nile, 3, 18, 312. 

Nimrood, temples at, 241, 308. 

"Nine Maidens " (The), 292, 293. 

Nineveh, May temple at, 307. 

Norwich, sun-wheel at, 193. 

Nos Galan-yalaf, 187. 

Not Glamau, 207. 

November, festival, 186, 195, 290, 

Oak, contiguous to sacred wells, 216. 

Obliquity of the Ecliptic, change of 
the, 15, 43. 

Observations, astronomical and re- 
ligious, 125, 322. 

O'Connor, Dr., 216. 

Odin stone, Stenness, 127, 218, 283, 

Offerings, at holy places, 222, 318. 

Onston, 132. 

Ordeals, 247. 

Ordnance Survey, 111, 253. 

Orientation, first use of, 18. 

Orionis, a (Betelgeuse), 117, 144, 314. 

Orkney, 125, 259. 

Otley, Mr. Jonathan, 35, 111. 

Ouseley, Sir William, 234. 

Palenque, 32, 308. 

Palaeolithic age, 75. 

Palm, at vernal equinox, 211. 

Palm Sunday, 184, 211. 

Panathenaea, 31. 

Paiallelithons, 148. 

"Pardons," in Brittany, 198. 

Parthenon, 298. 

Payn, Mr. Howard, 66, 94. 

Pegasi, a and 0, 117. 

Pennant, tour of Scotland, 206. 

Penrose, Mr., 31, 34, 38, 42, 51, 62 
78, 89, 93, 94, 109, 142, 154, 298, 306, 
310, 312, 313, 315. 

Pentecost, feast of, 32, 185. 

Pepi, 295. 

Percy's Northumberland Notes, 184. 



Perrott, Mr., 148. 

Persia, rag-offerings in, 234. 

Petrie, Flinders, Prof., 62. 

Pet-ser, 2. 

Philpot, Mrs., 257. 

Picks, of deer's-horn, 78. 

"Pierre du Conseil " (Lagatjar), 104. 

Piers' Survey of S. Ireland, 182, 229. 

Pins, as offerings at sacred wells, 222, 
227, 258, 318. 

"Pipers, The, "266, 271. 

Pitt-Kivers, General, 235, 236. 

Plato, 7. 

Pleiades, at British monuments, 153, 
273, 274, 280, 290 ; employed by Sem- 
ites, 247 ; elsewhere, 108, 117, 151, 155, 
162, 310, 311. 

Ploudalmezeau, monuments at, 100. 

Ploy-field, the, at Holne, 196. 

Pole, apparent path of stars at the 
north, 6 ; elevation of the, 9 ; motion 
of stars, round, 300, 303. 

Pollux, see Geminorum. 

Pompeii, 312. 

Pomponius Mela, 322, 324. 

Pont 1'Abbe", menhirs at, 105. 

Portugal, place-names from wells, 

Pratt's flowering plants, 202, 206. 

Precession, effects of, 64, 295. 

Prestwich, Prof., 79. 

Priests, 316, 317. 

Processions, sacred, 319. 

Ptah, 29, 31, 298, 304. 

Pylons, use of, 55. 

Pyramids, building of, 18 worship 
at, 29. 

Pyrenees, genii at holy-wells, 234. 

Pyrus aucuparia, 201. 


Quicken- tree, 206, 208. 
Quiller-Couch, holy wells. 213, 216, 
223, 226, 228. 

Quoit, definition of, 38. 


Racing, at festivals, 319. 

Bags, as offerings in sacred places, 
216, 222, 223, 225. 

Ram Feast, at Holne (Dartmoor), 

Read, Mr. C. H., 237. 

Refraction, effect of, 1 12, 120. 

Rent-day, date of, in Ireland, 30. 

Rhys, Prof., 26, 30, 186, 188, 202, 
206, 207, 208, 213, 215, 219, 220, 223 
250, 260, 319. 

Boddon, = Rowan, 206. 

Roll-Rich, Oxon., 36. 

Bolstcn, Mr. W. E., 120, 122, 290. 

Borrington, Chirbury, 227. 

Bowan-tree, 201, 211, 318, 320; and 
witchcraft, 206, 208 ; near sacred wells, 

Bowe's perambulation of Dartmoor, 
147, 148, 152, 158, 287. 

Buz Kasim. 29. 

Bus Khidr, 29. 


Sacred-fires, see fires. 

Sacrifices, 197, 205, 319. 

Sagittarius, 15. 

Sainhain, feast of, 187. 

Sanctuary, at Stonehenge, 55. 

St. Aelian, Derbyshire, 216. 

St. Blaze ("Blayse," "Blazeus"), 
anniversary of, 184. 

St. Burian, Cornwall, 267, 271. 

St. Claire, 140. 

St. Cleer, holy well at, 229. 

St. Cuthbert, "Cornwall, 228. 

St. Herbot, sacrifices to, 199. 

St. John's Day, festivals on, 230. 

St. John's Eve, fire customs, 192. 

St. Just, Cornwall, stone circle at, 

St. Justin, 140. 

St. Martin, feast of, 186. 

St. Medan, holy well at Kirkmaiden, 

St. Michael's Mount, 40. 

St. Nicodemus, sacrifices to, 199. 

St. Peter's, Rome, 32. 

St. Benan, monuments at, 100. 

Salisbury, position of cathedral, 65 ; 
solstitial custom at, 43. 

Saracens, star-worship among the, 

Sardonyx, employment of, 32. 

Sarsens, stones, 15, 45, 79, 91. 

Scandinavia, temples in, 63. 

Schubeler, Prof., 202. 

Scorpionis a (Antares), 117, 142, 273, 
310, 311. 

Scotland, Ma.y-year in, 109, 186, 321 
types of stone circles in, 36. 

Scott, Sir Walter, 40. 

Seasons, astronomical and vegeta- 
tional, 212. 

Semites, beliefs concerning the stars, 
249 ; in Britain, 243, 246 ; temple prac- 
tices among the, 240, 248, 256. 

Sennacherib, May temple of, 308. 

Sergi, Prof., 237." 

Serpentis o, 117. 

Sesheta, 2. 

Set, British equivalent of, 195. 



Shakspeare, 204. 

Sheat, xte Pegasi ft. 

Shenn Laa Boaldyn (Manx May-day), 

Shinto, cult of. 3. 

Shovel Down, Devon, 158, 160, 314. 

Shrines, trilithons as, 37. 

Shrove Tuesday, 182. 

Sight-lines, 316 ; different methods 
of marking, 107 ; methods of using, 41. 

Silbury (or Sidbury), 66. 

Sirius. -see Canis Majoris a. 

Skins, offerings of, 318. 

" Slaughter Stone," the, 90, 93. 

Smith, Colonel Hamilton, 148. 

Smith, Dr. J., 52. 

Smith, Robertson, Prof., 243, 245, 
248, 255, 257. 

Society of Antiquaries, 69. 

Solstices, the, 13, 108, 120 ; azimuths 
of sunrise at, 43, 291 ; at Palenque and 
Chichen Itza, 308 ; celebration of, 40, 
193 ; date of introduction into Britain, 
313 ; determination of, 16 ; in Egypt, 
3, 13; in France, 99, 103, 104; in 
Morocco and Britain, 243 ; provided 
for at British monuments, 93, 129, 176, 
274, 280, 290, 312, 314 ; sunrise at, 36 ; 
warning stars for, 117, 314; worship 
at, 259, 320. 

Spence, Mr., 35, 123, 128, 254, 285. 

Spica, see Virginis o. 

Stalldon Moor, 150, 163. 

Standen (near Hungerford), 79. 

Stanton Drew, 166, 167, 170, 173 ; 
cove at, 37 ; dates of, 174 ; dimensions 
of circles at, 171 ; May-year at, 309 ; 
solstitial worship at, 314. 

Stars, changes in declination of, 42, 
109 ; northern, 114 ; heliacal risings of, 
108 ; reason for observations of, 42 ; 
worship of, 139, 249. See clock-stars. 

Stenness, 35, 123, 218 ; azimuths of 
sunrise at, 120 ; observations required 
at, 129 ; seasons provided for at, 127, 
131, 309, 314. 
Sterility, 239, 256. 
Stirling, festivals at, 238. 
Stockwell, 67, 111, 129, 176. 
Stone-age, 75. #. 

Stonehenge, 41, 50pM, 6G, 58, 88, 91 ; 
amplitudes of stars at, 11 ; apparent 
paths of stars at, 7 ; architecture of, 

83 ; avenue, 63, 65 ; axis, 55, 60 ; azi- 
muth of sunrise at, 120 ; the " Cursus " 
at, 319 ; custom at, 43 ; date of, 62, 
67, 93 ; desecration of, 47 ; erection of, 

84 ; " Leaning Stone " at, 69, 84 ; May- 
year at, 109 ; origin of stones, 90 ; posi- 
tion of, 65 ; rededication of, 109 ; sol- 
stitial temple, 108, 314; " Stanenges, " 
52 ; tools found at, 74. 

Stones, as azimuth marks, 110; 
.anointing of, 255 ; cresset-, 190, 256 ; 
holed, 37, 128, 282, 285, 286, 316, 318 ; 
hollowed, 192, 248, 323 ; Semitic, sacred, 
244 ; unhewn and worked, 321. 

Stone- worship, proscribed, 271. 

Stripple Stones, Cornwall, 36, 292. 

Stukeley, Dr., 37, 53, 134, 289. 

Sunrise, apparent, 120 ; azimuth of, 
64; determination of, 118; observa- 
tion of, 63, 66, 99 ; November, 93. 

Sunset, determination of, 118 ; the 
May-, 93. 

Sycamore, 204. 



"Tan St. Jean," 40. 

Tanta Fair, 28, 29. 

Tara, perpetual fire at temple of, 

Tauri a, Aldebaran, 315. 

Tavistock, 147. 

Temenos mound, at Stonehenge, 47, 

Temple-axis, fixing of, 1. 

Temples, associated, 297 ; Egyptian, 
55 ; solstitial, 313. 

Thebes (Egypt), 8, 108 ; amplitudes 
at, 11 ; stars used at, 299, 304; May- 
year at, 247, 305. 

Thebes (Greece^, 299. 

Theodolite, adjustments of, 172, 329. 

Thomas, Mr., 277, 282. 

Thorn-trees, associated with holy 
wells, 221. 

Thoth, 259. 

Thurnham, Dr. , 63. 

Tigris, rise of the, 30. 

Tirehan, 214. 

Tissington, Derbyshire, 228. 

Tlachtaga, the fire of, 187. 

Tombs, dolmens not intended for, 

Torches, 317. 

Toutates, 260. 

Track-lines, 149. 

Tradition, 179. 

" Treachery of the Long Knives," 95. 

Trees, sacred, 200, 220, 257 ; Arabian 
worship of, 245 ; Semitic, 244, 246. 

Tregaseal, 277, 278, 280, 309, 314. v 

Trilithons, 81 ; at Stonehenge, 58 ; 
functions of, 37, 41 ; in Japan, 3. 

Trippet stones, 36. 

Tristis rock, 158. 

Trowlesworthy, 158, 161, 162. 

Truthwall Common, 277. 
Tubberpatrick, well at, 225. 



Tumuli, 93, 102, 254 ; at Stenness, 
Turkey, calendar in, 29. 

Ursae Majoris a, 295, 298. 


Vallum, 47, 291. 
Vega, see Lyrae o. 
" Via Sacra," 60, 155, 163. 
Via, stones of, 128. 
Virginia o, (Spica), 108, 142, 299, 
305, 315. 


Wales, wells near churches, 229. 

Warning-stars, 108 ; in Britain, 
310; in Greece, 311. 

Water, near holy places, 246, 317. 

Wells, associated with trees, 219, 
220 ; curative powers, 235 ; sacred 
associations, 206, 214, 216, 217, 218, 
219, 228, 229, 234, 257, 273 ; "Waking 
the Well," 228 ; wishing, 215 ; worship 
at, 215, 233 ; worship, modern, 221, 
223, 225, 226 

Westermarck, Mr., 319. 

Westmorland, May-day customs, 

Whitethorn, 202. 

Whitley, Rev. I)., 255. 

Whitsuntide, 185, 196. 

Willow, blossoms used on Palm 
Sunday, 211. 

Wiltshire Archaeological Society, 50. 

Windle, Mr., 37. 

Witchcraft, 206, 212, 216. 

Witchen-tree, 206. 

Wood -Martin, Mr., 213, 214, 220, 
223, 233. 

Woon Gumpus Common, 282. 

Worship, British and Semitic, 252 ; 
flower-, 203 ; sun- and star-, 260 ; well-, 


Worth, Mr. Hansford, 146, 148, 
150, 153, 164. 

Worth, Mr., R.N., 147, 148. 
" Wroth silver," payment of, 188. 


Year, the astronomical, 16, 25 ; 
the Celtic, 186 ; division of the, 18 ; 
the Julian, 23 ; the lunar-, in Bab3 r lon, 
24 ; the solstitial-, 19, 159, 261 ; the 
vegetation-, 18, 19, 25, 97, 109, 203. 

Yucatan, the temples of, 33. 





GN Lockyer, (Sir) Joseph 

792 Norman 

G7L6 Stonehenge